Recap: TransitCamp Edmonton

On Saturday, May 30th we held the first ever TransitCamp here in Edmonton. Overall I’d say it was a success, though it didn’t quite turn out the way I had expected! I guess that’s the way it goes with unconferences. We had about 50 people in attendance, and my primary goal of getting a group of interested citizens together with ETS to talk about transit was achieved. Most people I had a chance to talk to after said they enjoyed the event, which was great to hear.

The main issue was that we didn’t have Internet access at the World Trade Centre, despite being promised connectivity when we negotiated the space. We had a few other options (AirCard from Chris, going down to the ETS offices in Scotia Place) but they resulted in confusion more than anything. In the end we decided to cancel the two Skype sessions, which was really unfortunate but allowed us to continue.

During the confusion, however, something really interesting happened. People just started sharing and talking in little groups! It was great to see such conversations taking place, and I suppose the lesson is that they probably wouldn’t have if everything had gone according to plan.

The sessions were all great, I thought. Chris Moore started things off with an interactive discussion about Edmonton Transit IT, examining what we have now, what we’ll have if nothing changes, and what we could have if we consider some possibilities. Next up was Rhonda Toohey, who shared with us the 100 Year LRT Expansion Plan that will go before council on June 2nd. We had two ETS Platinum Bus tours with Dennis Nowicki, and everyone seemed quite impressed with the high tech buses. Brendan Van Alstine led a discussion about TRUE. I shared my presentation on Data for Developers – software developers, not land developers! Councillor Iveson finished the day off talking about “Selling Transit”, using Toronto’s Transit City (which is what Adam Giambrone was scheduled to present) as an example of a successful sell. Throughout the day we had a whiteboard where anyone could write down a question, and we answered most of them during the wrap-up session.

I’ll be working to update the TransitCamp Edmonton site with slides, resources, and more information over the next couple weeks. Be sure to check out Alain’s post on the event, and the iNews880 coverage also. Sharon took a few photos during the day, which you can see here. Eugene posted some photos here, and Grant recorded some video that you can watch here.

Thanks to everyone who came out to TransitCamp, and a special shout-out to the three who came up from Calgary! I hope we’re able to do it again soon (in a venue with Internet) – though maybe in a different format. Let me know if you have any feedback, suggestions, or other ideas!