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Macon Transit using new online maps

Code for America’s first Macon project is getting its first big test, as users try a new online map with Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority’s discounted services this week.

The new online maps already show important locations such as libraries and the City Auditorium, as well as every stop.

Nick Doiron, one of three Code for America fellows assigned to Macon, said Monday that the online map is still being improved.

He demonstrated a version, not yet fully tested, that would show the next time a bus is expected at a particular stop.

Macon Transit now only publishes bus times for some of the biggest stops, leaving riders to guess when buses would arrive at the stops in between.

The Code for America fellows also are experimenting with other map tools that could let people click to find the next arrival times for a particular bus stop.

Rick Jones, who leads Macon Transit, said everyone has been telling him the new online map is better.

“It’s much easier to deal with,” Jones said. “They’re a lot easier to open up, a lot easier to manipulate and a lot easier to work with.”

Doiron and the other fellows -- Jessica Lord and Zach Williams -- are working on several other Code for America projects in Macon. Their computer work is intended to be easily replicated in other communities.

Doiron said he’s working to get Macon’s parks and the locations of buildings throughout Bibb County into online maps that draw from the OpenStreetMap project. He’s already testing Mercer University-area building locations, including The Lofts At Mercer, as well as the Lynmore Estates area.

Doiron said organizations such as Habitat for Humanity could more easily work with a map showing exact building locations, noting problems in a neighborhood better than they could with a list of addresses. Such use of government-generated data can help in countless ways.

“It’s public data,” Doiron said. “It’s reasonable to think this should be available to the public.”

Code for America is also looking into ways to better explain how to start a business in Bibb County.

Some tools being tested let people check an address’ zoning restrictions or determine the biggest-sized sign they can erect at their business.

The map is available through www.mta-mac.com.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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