A broken bus-arrival app demonstrates an issue with open data

From Slate:

People are becoming dependent on their cellphones, and when NextBus, a popular transportation app in Washington, D.C., stopped functioning in December, many commuters were thrown into a frenzy. There are a number of iPhone apps that communicate bus arrival times in the capital, but NextBus has been among the most efficient. Its makers received more than 7,000 frustrated emails in response to the blackout. As one of the approximately 30,000 users of the NextBus app, I’d relied on it to decide how to get to work, and the morning it failed, I kept flicking my thumb across the screen, dismayed by the incessant “connection error.” Today, the app is still down, and it isn’t expected to start working again for at least a few weeks.
Complaining about the D.C. Metro system’s ineptitude is perhaps the best place for partisans to find common ground in Washington. However, it was the app developer, not the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, that caused the ongoing NextBus outage. The app’s failure demonstrates ongoing issues in the push to put government data to use for the people. This information can transform the way people make decisions but only if it’s easily accessible.