Years ago, I created a sort of home dashboard to offer up relevant information–mostly when getting ready to head to work in the morning. I gave it the perhaps poor title of Good Morning Display, which has stuck all these years. This isn’t an original idea, by far. However, it has proven not only to be a useful information tool, but also a great platform for learning about new (to me) technologies.

Now, all the these years later, I’m thinking about another rewrite to better serve my current needs. What follows is a bit of a brain dump before I embark on this project. Keep reading for some history and my thoughts for what might be next…

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The MTA has been making real-time subway information available to developers for a couple years. However, one must contend with the GTFS Realtime format, which isn’t as easy as digesting an API. This is especially true when one only wants the status at one or two stations.

Enter MTA Sanitizer, Jon Thornton’s JSON proxy for real time MTA subway information. This looks like a very promising project for those looking to get at the real-time information. It needs to run on a server somewhere, but everybody has one of those.

I really wish this was available when I was trying to include real-time subway information in my Good Morning Display.

Good Morning Display 2Last year, I put together a simple dashboard of sorts. It runs on an old iPhone 3, which now sits on the kitchen counter. The iPhone is in guided access mode, so hitting the home button wakes it up to the screen shown here without having to slide to unlock or enter a passcode.

Recently, I wanted to add some information from New Jersey Transit. With just a bit of research, I found that the good people at New Jersey Transit provide MyBus Now, a very nice real-time bus location service. I was able to incorporate the date into the Good Morning Display quite easily. So, now I know when the next bus is arriving.

The latest code is on GitHub.

TransitScreen NYC

TransitScreen displays transit conditions so people can make informed decisions about what mode to take–before trekking to a crowded station where trains are delayed. TransitScreen is working on putting its displays in several types of locations, including shops and building lobbies. More of these displays around the city would be a welcome sight; not just at transit hubs.

Currently, they don’t seem to be offering a solution for the home user. This is unfortunate since most transit users’ trips originate from home at least once a day. In the absence of a home version, it would be wonderful if they opened up their data so that people could build their own display. I would have used their aggregated data had it been available when I created the Good Morning Display and I think these sort of informational displays are going to become more common in the home.

Image from TransitScreen

via Atlantic Cities