Latest update: Next bus Barcelona: No traces of the data
This has been finally solved: Next bus Barcelona is up again
Please read the previous status update here: Update to the Next bus Barcelona case
Today I received by bureaufax a legal requirement submitted by a law firm informing me that CETRAMSA (Centre Metropolità d’Informació i Promoció del Transport, SA), the authors of the AMBTempsbus app, says that I am making an unfair use and taking advantage of their application, and that my application Next bus Barcelona violates their intellectual property rights. They request the immediate removal of the application, and the destruction of all data property of CETRAMSA associated with it.
Logically, the application has already been removed from Google Play and BlackBerry World, and I have already destroyed the database used on the server. No one can download the application, and who already had downloaded it, receives an error message when using the app.
Next bus Barcelona was developed in an afternoon of boredom, because when I had to catch the bus, the TMB application was slow to check. You had to open it (which took a few seconds), go to the iBus option, enter the code for the bus stop, and wait for the data to load (and many times, it wouldn’t load!). I realized that a new application had just appeared (AMB Temps bus) that allowed to search only by entering the stop code, and then you already had all the data needed, and even more, it also showed data for the non-TMB lines. But it was a simple webpage that did that, there was no chance of checking the next arrivals without knowing the stop code, no map, not even the option to save a list of favorite stops (months later, they added it, but it has never worked properly). As this seemed important to me, I thought it would be a good idea to create a more intuitive application, with more features, based on the data already provided by AMB Temps bus.
Initially, the application was a simple list of favorite bus stops and a call to the AMB Temps bus website to get arrival times. I didn’t even intend to publish it in Google Play, believing that most people already had enough with the AMB or TMB apps, and maybe I was very picky and had to code my own application just to save a few seconds. But some time later, I thought I could add other features to it, and why no, try to publish it on Google Play to see if, as I already had done the work, maybe someone was interested in it too.
I did not expect at all the response to the application: it became the 10th most downloaded transport application in Spain (position that it held today, before I unpublished it), well above AMB Temps bus, and near the TMB application (TMB Virtual). With 50,000 downloads and 33,000 active users, it has been a great success. Over time, and many times due to user suggestions, I have added many new features to it: search, map, QR scanning, graphical bus routes, etc. All this has made it very superior to the rest of those of its kind published on Google Play (although, of course, there are always many things to improve!).
I understand that AMB (and CETRAMSA) don’t like this, because an application developed by a simple person in his spare time is taking users from their official application, which surely must have costed a lot of money. It is true that I am making use of their data (which I think should be considered public, as we already paid with our money for that public company’s work ), but I’m causing no harm to the company, because I only give an added value that their application does not offer, and I don’t tamper the data or wrongly appropriate it (I have always statedd that the data is not of my property).
In the context of Barcelona, the Mobile World Capital, and a great promoter of open data, it seems incredible that these things can happen, and that a public corporation can enforce someone to remove his application, simply because it offers an additional service that the administration itself should offer. If things were done the right way from the beginning, I would have never created the application, and we would not be where we are now.
I don’t think it was necessary to reach these extremes to send a legal requirement. Had I been contacted, we could have reached an agreement, or at least we could have talked about the problems that I caused to them, so we could fix them, and we would never have come to this point. But apparently, they took the other way.
Well, I don’t want to extend this many more, I guess the application has ended as of now. From here, I want to thank all the users who downloaded it, who used it (many of them daily) and who sent suggestions for improvement (there were many, and I still hadn’t been able to answer them all!). Hopefully, one day we will meet again. Meanwhile, you can use AMB Temps bus.