Over the summer, one of my students, Chris Osborne, worked together with Nestoria to create a demonstration of a mash-up that can help users find where they can live, i.e. rent or buy a home, at a given travel-time distance from a given underground or DLR station, assuming that they are using the network to commute. Building on the concepts that MySociety developed in their travel-time maps, Chris created the application by screen-scraping the journey planner of Transport for London and integrated it with Nestoria’s property information.
I had been thinking about this type of application for a long while, but before Google Maps APIs and the technologies of Web 2.0, this was practically impossible. Even though the demonstration proves that it is possible for one developer now to accomplish this task – which was something unimaginable even 3 years ago – it is still fairly challenging. Travel information is not readily available and calculating travel time for lots of places is not a trivial task.
In addition, Chris integrated user-centred design principles and has done a very good job in creating an effective – and really useful – application. I can imagine this application continuing to develop to become, practically, a multi-criteria analysis system for people to find places to live in. Chris is going for the ‘Show Us a Better Way’ competition, and I hope that he’ll be able to continue and develop the application further.