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Why Kidero thinks you need an App to know where to find a matatu

A new digital system that enables Nairobi commuters to know which matatu to use for a particular destination and where to find it has been launched.

Governor Evans Kidero said the technology, DigitalMatatus, is expected to decentralise the transport system.

A commuter is only required to have a smart phone to download the information, he said.

“Nairobi County is the first city in Africa to launch the DigitalMatatus system, which standardises transit data for matatus and the city’s decentralised bus system, making it open and available to the public for the first time,” Dr Kidero said in a statement from London where it was launched.

The governor said the system is a joint project of the county government, the University of Nairobi and Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development.

Other players are MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab and Groupshot.

“The ground work was done by young Kenyans who spent a lot of time reaching out to various stakeholders to support the project. Right now, the data is being used by five apps in Nairobi and goes to show that the city is the leading communications hub in Africa,” said Dr Kidero, who is attending the City Lab London 2015 Conference, a technology innovation meeting sponsored by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He said about 3.5 million people using matatus daily have little information on the more than 130 routes they ply.

“Providing this information via Google Maps not only increases accessibility to the transit system, but also serves as a model for creating information on public transport,” he said.