Software Badgers

David Ory
David Ory
Nov 28, 2018 · 2 min read

One of the best parts about working in the travel modeling space is that most of the funding and initiatives are conducted by and for government. The transparency and open access that most governments seek often extends to the software and script libraries they fund. As such, the travel modeling community is awash in useful open source software and script libraries. Our academics have published MATSim and the Urban Data Science Toolkit. Regional governments in San Diego and Seattle release the source code that powers their regional travel models and several are working on the collaborative ActivitySim project. Myriad open source tools are sponsored and released by the Federal Highway Administration, including the dynamic transit assignment Fast-Trips package.

Photo via Joybot @ Flickr CCA

At Zephyr, we want to do our part to encourage and improve the open source urban planning community. We’ve set up an open source code directory that we hope becomes a convenient aggregator for code that exists in our space. Our next effort is the subject of this post: software badges.

The idea is to create a low-stakes incentive program to reward academics, practitioners, consultants, governments, and others who build useful and robust open-source software. So, just as kids proudly show off their achievement badges, we want to create virtual badges that signal Zephyr’s support. Here’s how we (currently) expect the program to work:

  • Interested open source projects complete a simple form, letting us know what they are doing and why;
  • The Badger team reviews and scores the proposal and coding practices, using a transparent and open scoring system, giving confidential recommendations for improvement (as needed);
  • If the code passes the review, an API key is awarded, and the badge can be proudly published in the project’s repository.
travis ci GitHub badge via

Via the badges, we hope to signal our support for the wonderful open source software efforts that are happening in our community. For users, we hope the badge becomes a signal that the subject software is useful, cogent, and efficient.

I’m joined in this endeavor by a world-class group of software-interested travel modelers and software engineers. The team includes:

  • Kat Busch, Sidewalk Labs;
  • Billy Charlton, TU Berlin;
  • Dan Florian, INRO;
  • Jeffrey Newman, Cambridge Systematics;
  • Ben Stabler, RSG;
  • Kyle Ward, Caliper; and,
  • Lisa Zorn, Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

On behalf of Zephyr, I’d like to thank the above project committee members for spending their free time on this initiative.

If you’re interested in open source travel modeling software or badging programs, please get in touch!

Commentary insights on making travel analysis useful to…

David Ory

Written by

Urban planner


Commentary insights on making travel analysis useful to society