People helping people as they get from here to there

Inside Track

More data = more options = less stress

August 18th, 2014  |  Published in announcements, Inside Track

What is going on: Our premium service, The Inside Track, goes well beyond simple crowdsourcing. Recently, we began rolling out new feeds of information which comes directly from NJ Transit, Metro North and LIRR.

Why is the info not in the subject line? (e.g., why does it say “[NJTT-NEC] New “Travel Alert” from NJ Transit”)
Short answer: Size.
We can’t control the length of these alerts…and they vary widely. To avoid chopping off part of the message, we put the “payload” in the body of the mail. We gave these messages a distinguishable subject (and differentiated them from subject we use for the free service).

 What you can do if you DO NOT want to receive all these messages:

We are pleased to report that you have at least 4 options.
  1. Be sure your time-of-day and day-of-week settings are accurate (to only get messages during your commute) (see how)
  2. Block these messages entirely by blocking the sender (see how)
  3. Block some of the messages by filtering by category (see how)
  4. Use your e-mail program / device to build a filter on your side (some technical skill required)
As a commuter once said: Commuting is a game…and you win it with information. Let me decide what I want to use.
We agree. Therefore, we make these alerts available to you…and give you controls so that you can manage the flow.

 

How to beat the crowds at Penn Station

August 15th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp, NJT

Here is a fantastic example of how a commuter can use The Inside Track to determine which track their train will be on…before it is announced.

In this scenario, it’s 5:58 PM and the rider is shown the track number for the 6:10 PMwith 92% probability (see disclaimer below).

The transit providers claim to announce trains “10-15 minutes prior to departure.” However, this train (announced 7:47 in advance) represents what we see based on actual data.


This example demonstrates the value we provide. If you were an The Inside Track user on this day you would have known your track assignment…

  • 12 minutes prior to departure time and
  • 2 minutes earlier than NJ Transit announced it!

Disclaimer: This is a real example from the Montclair-Boonton line on September 2, 2014. Probabilities will vary based on a variety of factors…and will change as scheduled departure time nears. Always confirm that you are on the proper train.


Step 1 – [5:56 PM] Arrive at Penn Station

CleverCommuteYouArriveAtPenn
Here is a view of the NJ Transit departure board.

Nope…the train is not posted yet


Step 2 – [5:58 PM] Check The Inside Track

CleverCommuteDepartureBoard

Since we get our departure board data from the transit providers, it’s no surprise that we don’t list the track number yet, either.

But you can click through on that last column…


Step 3 [5:58 PM] – Your Track Number Prediction…with supporting data!

CleverCommuteTrackPredictionDashboard
#1 – Your track prediction!
#2 – Track number history …as a pie chart
#3 – Track number history…as a table
#4 – Extra info…just to keep everyone honest :)


Step 4 – [5:59 PM] Still waiting on NJ Transit to announce the track number

CleverCommuteTrainStillNotAnnounced


Step 5 – [6:00 PM] They finally announce the track.

CleverCommuteNJTAnnouncesAfterWeDo


Optional Step [Anytime] – Browse the track history details for this train

CleverCommuteTrackHistoryDetails

We love to hear this

August 4th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, testimonial

Unsolicited praise from a user of our premium service:

a tremendous service for anyone who regularly commutes into the city

Our datasources (it’s more than crowdsourced)

July 25th, 2014  |  Published in announcements, documentation, Inside Track, techdoc

The beauty of Clever Commute is that we offer riders the full “360 degree” view of their commute…with control over how/when the information is delivered to them.

Clever Commute originally started as a crowdsoucing company…but we have gone well beyond that. Here is a closer look:

  1. User-generated content – We have tens of thousands of commuters who give you a first-hand look at what is happening on your commute. Our technology cleanses, curates, and removes duplicate messages in order to be sure that you get the most benefit from the wisdom of the crowds.
  2. Official Information from the Transit Providers – Our technology talks to theirs…and you benefit.  Through a variety of interfaces, we make it simple for you to access the data from your carrier. You no longer need to sign up with them.
  3. Social Media – We scour the web for the best info for you. Sometimes it comes directly from your carrier. Sometimes it comes from others who share our passion for actionable commuter info. But it’s always information about your commute. So it doesn’t matter if (for example) you are on Twitter or not. We fetch it and deliver it to you per your preferences.
  4. Historical – No one has more data than we do. Clever Commute was founded in 2008. That gives us years of context and history about every commute in the areas we serve. We use that data to provide you with the best information
  5. Algorithms – Data is interesting…but it’s fascinating when you do things with it. We have deep knowledge of the issues on each of the carriers we serve, so we know what triggers the events / alerts / tips which help you. You won’t find this anywhere else.

The best part: you are in control!

Every person and commuting pattern is different. Users of our premium service (The Inside Track) can opt-in/out of the above as they’d like. You can also select the time-of-day and  day-of-week that you want to receive notifications.  You can pause your notifications when you are on vacation. You can even hit snooze and let us know when you’d like to resume.

 

Inside Track lets you manage the alerts from your transit provider

July 14th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp, NJT

This is another feature of The Inside Track, our premium service.

Yes, your transit provider may indeed publish travel alerts on their web site. They may even e-mail some of them. But when you give them your e-mail address, you also may get unsolicited mails from them (promotions, corporate comms, etc). We solve for that, and ALSO give you these features:

  • categorization (with the option to filter-by-category)
  • color-coding (for readability)
  • delivery as text message
  • the ability to set delivery preferences by time-of-day and day-of-week
  • a way to easily pause/resume/snooze

And of course, if you don’t want to receive these messages via Inside Track, you can opt out.

Example (for NJT Riders). [Click to enlarge any image]

1. NJT publishes a Travel Alert

CleverCommuteNJTAlertsStartHere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Our technology cleans, categorizes and color-codes it and sends it to you

As a text message…

CleverCommuteNJTAlertsTextMesage

 

 

 

 

or an e-mail

CleverCommuteNJTAlertsEmailInbox

(inbox view)

 

CleverCommuteNJTAlertsEmaiMessage

(message view)

 

 

Inside Track – Track Number Predictions

July 11th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp, LIRR, NJT

For trains departing NY’s Penn Station, the transit providers have a stated policy of releasing each train’s track number assignment “10-15 minutes prior” to the scheduled departure time. However, that is a guideline…not a guarantee. Some trains are announced just a few minutes in advance. Also, there are instances where the train number is known by the transit providers…but not shared with the commuters.

The Inside Track (Clever Commute’s premium service) changes all that. We use a proprietary algorithm to dynamically predict each track number before it is announced by the transit providers.

When you click-through on history icon (right-most column) for each train, you will see a page with 4 sections: (click to enlarge)

CleverCommuteEnhancedTrackPrediction

1. Date range selector – Our model is most accurate when it looks at the largest pool (e.g., 60-day) of   historical data.

2. Pie chart – historical track assignments for this train
(it will change as you adjust #1 above)

3. Prediction table – For a given track number, it shows
Location: a list of tracks that this train has used in the selected time period. Our technology eliminates some tracks as options for this train on this day (e.g., Track 3).
- Occurs: the number of times that track has been used by this train
- Historical Percentage: that number expresses as a percent of the sample size
- Probability: the Clever Commute probability of that train being on a given track for this commute

4. Day-by-day track history – track assignment for this train over the selected period

 

Important things to note 

  • We continue to revise our technology, and the predictions will get better over time. Do not expect 100% accuracy.
  • The stats will change right up until the track is announced.  At that time, the announced track will be set to 100% Probability.
  • Often times, information about eliminated tracks can be just as helpful as the Probability
  • Adjacent tracks matter! One platform serves two tracks. So, feel free to take a peek down the stairs and get a 2-for-1 view!
  • It is your responsibility to be sure you are on the right train. Always verify and listen for official announcements.

 

 

 

Watch this space (and be amazed)

July 3rd, 2014  |  Published in announcements, community updates, documentation, Inside Track, media, NJT, press, promotion

In the Summer of 2012, as a member of NJ Transit’s Developer program, Clever Commute built an app which gave commuters track number information in advance of being announced by NJT.

The information Clever Commute shared came directly from a NJT datafeed…and was delivered to the commuters in compliance with the NJT/Clever Commute partnership agreement.  Both sides openly acknowledged that the advance-track-number information was not 100% accurate/complete. However, Clever Commuters raved about this service.

NJT expressed displeasure with the fact that we were indeed using one of the data fields that they included in the field provided to us (and to all developers). Details of NJT/Clever Commute story can be found in this Wall Street Journal story.
To make a long story short: NJT stopped sharing that particular data feed with all developers.

However, Clever  Commute used this series of events as a catalyst to build an amazing suite of premium services which meets the needs to today’s commuters. We spent two years working / building / designing. After putting in over 1,200 enhancements, we are announcing the next version of The Inside Track – a portfolio of amazing features which empowers the commuters and gives them control over the data they need.

Today’s big news: Early-notice track numbers are coming back. In many ways our new approach makes “Round 2″ better than before. 

Please follow this link to see all the details.

 

 

 

Twitter Timelines in The Inside Track

June 6th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp

This is another feature of The Inside Track, our premium service.

We know that not everyone is a Twitter user. Even if you are, you may not be following the sources who provide good info.

So, we make it easy by giving all of our users access to commute-related info from the Twitter-verse

CleverCommuteTwitterTimelines1

 

From the main page, click on the red gear…and pick Twitter timelines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CleverCommuteSocialMediaBrowser

 

 

By default, we show you tweets for your primary carrier. However you have options to see other providers, as well as the major terminals (e.g., NY Penn, Port Authority and Grand Central).

It’s one more way we help you leverage the wisdom of the crowds.

 

We also show you the latest tweets from Clever Commute.

 

 

The 1% (not THAT 1%) and “why bus riders will love The Inside Track”

May 30th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp

Summary: Crowdsourcing is one important component of Clever Commute. However, when you use our premium service, you get the benefit of other datafeeds / sources. [Premium service = The Inside Track. See all the features. Sign up here. More info]

More: In Internet culture, there is a rule of thumb pertaining to participation in an internet community. It states that only 1% of the users of a social service (e.g., the free Clever Commute service) actively create new content. Yes – the other 99% of the participants only lurk. Statistically speaking, that’s YOU!

Of course, this matters if you depend on other people to do the sharing when there are issues with the commute…but none of your fellow commuters are sharing. Let’s cut to the chase and tell you why this all matters:

  • DeCamp bus lines (yes, the bus company) broadcasts bus-related info via their official Twitter account
    (Alas, Clever Commute knows that even fewer than 1% of our users are Twitter users…so this is not really a help)
  • The Port Authority of NY/NJ also electronically publishes timely updates regarding traffic and transit
    (although it has all the shortcomings of a non-integrated e-mail based system)

Oh, yes…we did! Just in time for Summer traffic: the two sources above are now integrated into The Inside Track! Now, our premium users can:

  • Opt-in/Opt-out of either of these new sources (just as they can for any sender)
  • Receive messages via fast e-mail or true text messaging
  • Set delivery preferences such as time-of-day/day-of-week
  • Use our snooze feature to pause alerts for minutes…hours…or until tomorrow!
  • Turn off all messages when you travel/are on business (but we know you like to see those when they don’t impact you: )

The timing could not be better. Let’s look at tonight, for example. The bus commute from Port Authority was indeed a bad one…but the sharers where nowhere to be found. That’s OK…automation saved the day!

At 5:42 PM: our integration with Port Authority provided the content for this automated e-mail message to our Inside Track commuters:

CleverCommutePABTFeed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 5:56 PM: our DeCamp/Twitter integration sent this e-mail message to our Inside Track commuters

CleverCommuteTweetFromOther

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It matters because there were no other crowdsourced messages this afternoon. If we did not have this technology in place, you would have no way to know about the problems tonight. 

 

About “Favorite Senders”

May 27th, 2014  |  Published in Inside Track, ITFeatureWriteUp

Another amazing feature from The Inside Track:

Show some love! When someone sends a really good alert to the group, let them know you care! Add them to your favorites list.

We won’t share any of your personal information. But we will recognize and reward the people who are most-favorited by their fellow commuters.

Maybe it will be YOU!