Friday, 12 December 2008

Major NaPTAN Upgrade and Other Improvements

We are doing a major site upgrade this weekend. Hopefully, we will only be offline for about five minutes on Friday evening 12th December and should then be back with some new functionality. We are upgrading the main ITO website, making significant improvements to the NaPTAN product, and adding some minor fixes to the OSM Mapper product. There are also a number of behind the scenes changes that make improvements in the future easier.

The NaPTAN product is a free online service for UK transport professionals involved in the management of the NaPTAN dataset which is a database of all the points of access to the UK public transport network. New users can request a subscription through our website. We perform tests on this data on a daily basis and allow users to see what is current in the dataset. We have improved a number of these tests as well as added some new ones.

We have introduced a 'manual warning' feature where users can flag an error for features (such as a bus stop or a locality) for which they believe the information given is wrong. The 'warning' consists of a text description field and this information will then appear in reports for the relevant data owners and managers. Other users can then update the issue as 'resolved' if they have fixed the associated problem or as 'suppressed' if they believe the fault report is in error.

We have added new tests to check the information used to snap on-street stops to roads. This information is important when presenting bus stops on maps that show where to access services. We now report on bus stops where the street name given in NaPTAN dataset does not match any nearby streets in the roads dataset and also where the bearing in the NaPTAN dataset does not match either of the directions of travel away from the bus stop along the selected road (for example where the bus stop says that buses leave to the north but the road of the appropriate name runs east-west).

We now import all the data associated with Hail and Ride stop points and display the relevant information on the Stop Point page.

We are testing the locality+qualifier to spot non-unique combinations in the UK to ensure that ambiguous locality names (such as Cambridge) have a qualifier (eg Cambridgeshire or Gloucestershire).

We have provided a link to OpenStreetMap as well as to Google Maps and Multimap etc from the 'view' menu on maps and this can sometimes be a useful alternative source of mapping data. In some places the data is still incomplete, but in other areas it is more up-to-date than the information available from commercial sources.

NPTDR 2008
We are currently working closely with the Department for Transport, Traveline and Thales on the 2008 release of the NPTDR dataset which contains details of all public transport movements in the UK. We are currently testing this database of 1.3 million public transport journeys against some thirty quality checks on a daily basis.

Although this product is now moving to our production servers, it will initially only be available to a small number of subscribers who are directly involved in the preparation of the data. We expect to be able to make this product available to all NaPTAN users as soon as the data is officially released.

Other Improvements
We have updated the website with new graphics on our home page and each product now identifies who has sponsored it.

We have added a messaging system so we can warn our users of planned downtime or current issues with the system. These messages will appear in the top bar if they are applicable.

We have hopefully resolved the issue with RSS feeds for users who are not logged in which was affecting OSM Mapper users and possibly also other users.

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