Go Metro mobile app update has geofencing

The latest update to the Go Metro mobile app is now available in the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices.

Featuring more than just bug fixes and stability improvements (though they’re in there too), version 3.2 of the Go Metro mobile app introduces geofencing and beacon technology, which will soon allow app users to receive messages that communicate contextually relevant information about service alerts, special events or discounts near Metro stations and stops.

The update was rolled out just in time for the Special Olympics World Games taking place in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2. During the World Games, the technology will be used to deliver relevant messages to Go Metro app users at stations and stops near Special Olympics venues. Of course, app users will need to opt in to receive these messages (in fact, it’s the first thing you’ll be asked after updating).

The technology is being rolled out as part of a 60-day pilot program that will test the viability of the technology in a variety of mobile applications. To utilize existing beacon technology, Metro teamed up with Gimbal, whose beacons are already in place at various bus benches around the city. The geofencing technology is powered by the Urban Airship platform.

Also new in version 3.2 is the option to download the entirety of Metro’s maps and timetables catalog for 99 cents. Because all maps and timetables are already available for individual download free of charge, this latest addition is intended for users that want the added convenience of having the timetables and maps of all 170 Metro bus routes and six Metro Rail lines at their fingertips at any time.

Find out more about Metro’s resources for your mobile device here

4 replies

  1. When I got my new phone I wanted to d/l the Metro app. But, the rights it asked for seemed too much.
    It wants:
    In-app purchases (why? and what?)
    Identity (why? and um, no thanks)
    Contacts (I don’t want MTA to know my friends)
    Location (this I understand)
    Phone (an explanation of this would be helpful)
    Photos/media/files (I can not see why you want to see my pictures or listen to my music)
    WiFi connection info (? um, no)
    Bluetooth connection info (? again and even more so, no)
    Device ID & call info (NO)

    • Hi just a person,

      The permissions requested by the Go Metro mobile app are really no different than what other major applications out there request, and all are related to the functioning of various features. That said, I talked to our web development group to get you some specific answers.

      – In-app purchase: allows new maps/timetable purchase option mentioned above.
      – Identity: allows in-app purchase when the app informs the respective app store of the purchase.
      – Contacts: allows use of contacts to assist in filling out addresses in Trip Planner.
      – Location: allows geolocation for trip planning and other features.
      – Phone: allows user to directly call customer service, TAP, Metro security directly from the app.
      – Photos/media/files: allows the app to download the maps and timetables for offline use. Crash log files are also stored here.
      – WiFi connection: allows the app to use WiFi to pull real-time arrival data.
      – Bluetooth connection: enables the beacon technology feature.
      – Device ID and call info: used for “submit a bug” link, allows logging of device and OS information for submitting bugs.

      The app FAQ addresses some of these features here: http://www.metro.net/mobile/metro-mobile-app/
      (click on FAQ tab), as does Metro’s privacy policy: http://www.metro.net/about/site-information/privacy-policy/

      Writer, The Source

    • Just a person,

      Why would Metro want these? In addition to what Joe above mentioned, some of them will be very useful for Metro in the near future and can be used to collect lots of data whether it can be done so or not.

      In-app purchases: Can also be used as data identifiers if your phone is capable of purchases through the smartphone and if majority of Metro Riders’ smartphones do have that feature. Can lead to possibility of replenishing TAP account through your smartphone.

      Identity: May not be your full name. It could just be your age range and probable sexual orientation, used for marketing purposes. Some dude probably around the age of 30-35 years old, seems to take Metro between station A and station B every weekday. This is likely to be this person’s commute.

      Contacts: May not be your full contact list. It could just be a zip code of your home address and work address or where your friends are.

      Location: Potential future study of distance based fares. Perhaps this is how Metro got the information how the vast majority of Metro bus riders’ average trips is only 3-4 miles and Metro Rail riders’ average is 12 miles. Could be used as a key indicator for Metro transit planners and fare planners on why raising fares may not be a good idea and that an alternative like distance based fares might be a better option.

      Phone: 2G/3G/4G cell signals are also used as secondary location information in conjunction with GPS info. GPS signals may not be able to reach underground, cell signals being installed in Red Line station tunnels can be used to guess where you are if you are underground.

      Photo/media/files: Can also be used as a place to store TAP transit information in the future. Photos (images) can be a possibility of QR coded transit passes.

      WiFi / BT / Device ID: Can also be used to transmit information about your smartphone’s features. Can be a good way for Metro to know how many devices are being used by Metro riders who have NFC capability on their smartphone. If the data collection says that a vast majority of smartphone users riding Metro do have NFC capabilities, then Metro can move to using NFC enabled smartphones as transit passes or as reloadable TAP cards in the future.

  2. […] The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CA) has updated its Go Metro mobile app for Apple and Android devices.  In addition to bug fixes and stability improvements, version 3.2 introduces geofencing and beacon technology to allow app users to receive contextually relevant information about service alerts, special events, or discounts near Metro stations and stops. The update was rolled out in time for the Special Olympics World Games, taking place in Los Angeles from July 25 to August 2, and the technology is part of a 60-day pilot program.  Link to full story in The Source. […]