Cyber Talk Radio: Transit Innovation with VIA

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Steve Young, VIA VP of Information Technology, discuss transit innovation. - Week 69 of Cyber Talk Radio

Show Summary

This past Saturday, January 20, episode 69 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Steve Young, VP of Information Technology at VIA.

We kick off the first part of the episode with Steve giving everyone a brief download on VIA and what transit services they offer to Bexar County. Steve educates us on the behind the scenes of running a mass transit system and the role of coding and technology innovation these days. VIA recognizes that they need to embrace new technology. Did you know that VIA offers Wi-Fi on all buses as of a few years ago? Also, VIA launched the VIA Go Mobile app last summer enabling bus riders to purchase tickets on the go, access bus routes, etc. Last year, VIA kicked off a Codeathon open to the public to encourage the community to get involved in developing new tech innovation to better the customer experience for VIA. Last year’s Codeathon winner was an Alexa skill to allow riders to ask when the next bus will be arriving at your specific location. Another example of a Codeathon innovation is a SlackBot connecting lunch ideas with the bus service. If you are interested in participating in the next Codeathon on February 23-25 at Trinity University, register at www.gocodesa.com. The winning prize is $5,000. Sponsors of the event include CodeUp, Geekdom, NetSync, AWS, USAA, Trapeze and more.

In the second half of the show, we talk through the judging criteria for the Codeathon and the key focus areas of the competition, which are impact, innovation and technical achievement. If you are participating, make sure to read up on the challenges and data sets before the event. Along with all of the tech innovation being fostered at VIA, there are working on other ways to improve the VIA service and customer experience. The bus fleet is now mostly powered by compressed natural gas. If you haven’t rode a VIA bus recently, you should get out there and check it out! It is a whole new and different experience than what you might have seen 5-10 years ago. Does VIA run their own big data operations? Since the typical customer pays in cash, its hard to gather data on the riders. They are definitely looking to collect more data over time and working on data visualization. Through the annual Codeathons, VIA is looking to the community to help them continue bringing new innovative ideas and technology to their bus fleet.

Check out the recap of last year’s Codeathon:

To learn more about VIA and the upcoming Codeathon, listen to the full episode replay available here!

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