WhereIsMyTransport is expanding its reach to the rest of Africa.
WhereIsMyTransport is a technology company that collects and connects public transport data, centralising regularly updated information about a city’s formal and informally run public transport networks (minibus taxis included) on its open platform, thus providing a single data platform for a city’s public transport ecosystem.
Over time, this data can be used to help cities optimise their transit networks.
“WhereIsMyTransport is a technology company that offers services based around its platform and unique public transport data. Our platform is the technical foundation of our work – data is available through this platform, and our unique tools are built on this platform,” says WhereIsMyTransport CEO Devin de Vries.
The services on offer include data collection (the company tracks and digitalises formally and informally run transport modes), data access (clients may access the company’s unique data to enable their decision-making processes), and journey planning (clients may power journey planning services through the WhereIsMyTransport platform.
“Our clients have included Cape Town’s Transport Authority and the Gauteng Roads and Transport Department in Johannesburg,” notes De Vries.
He says the company has an in-house data collection team that manages projects from start to finish.
This team works with local data collectors to train them in the company’s unique collection technologies, overseeing the capturing and processing of all data.
“We have built mobile phone applications which track routes, record geographical information, as well as frequency, fare, and other data. After completing the tracking process, we prepare the data for use – ensuring its accuracy before making it available for clients to use.”
One area where the WhereIsMyTransport platform could possibly expand is through the addition of privately owned transport opportunities, such as Uber.
“The focus of our business is public transport,” says De Vries. “However, transport is changing, and user habits are too. While public transport in African cities is often made up of both formal and informally run modes, e-hailing services are growing in popularity and usage as part of a person’s overall journey.”
WhereIsMyTransport was started by co-founders De Vries, Chris King and Dave New. One of the men missed a university exam because of a lack of public transport information – specifically the local shuttle bus.
“This started the information accessibility journey that our company has been on to this day; working to overcome the challenge of poor public transport information availability in many African cities,” says De Vries.
Since its inception, the business has received investment from organisations such as the Global Innovation Fund, Goodwell Investments, Omidyar Network, Horizen Ventures and Bombardier.
The WhereIsMyTransport platform currently has data for 21 cities.
“Our future plans include expansion into cities outside of South Africa, starting with five major African capitals,” says De Vries.
Data collection on these projects has already begun. (Data collection from informally run networks in all of South Africa’s metropolitan regions has just been completed.)
De Vries does not provide information on which Africa capital cities WhereIsMyTransport is targeting for its expansion into the rest of the continent.
“While we have focused on expansive data reach in South Africa in the last few years, refining our tools and processes to scale with the growth of our business, the next two to five years will see our ambitions expand into new regions, and our services on offer will also expand to make it as easy as possible for clients to put our unique public transport data to use in their applications.”
While focused on Africa, WhereIsMyTransport is headquartered in London, with Cape Town hosting the company’s research, development and data operations.
“Our office in London is close to many of our investors, project partners, and other business stakeholders,” explains De Vries.
“Even with a London office, our commitment to emerging cities is an integral part of our business and at this stage our plans for the future are based entirely around improving public transport information accessibility in emerging cities.”