October 5, 2023 9:47 am

Navigating GBFS Data with Ease: Introducing GBFS Validator Visualizations

It has been over 2 years since MobilityData worked with Fluctuo to release the Canonical GBFS Validator. Even as a starting point, the tool was good. It did what it needed to do, it validated whether or not GBFS feeds conformed to the specification. However, there was one crucial element missing. To understand that element, we must first understand the raison-d’être of GBFS: real-time availability and locations of vehicles and/or stations. GBFS exists for trip-planning applications to surface these vehicles so that users know what’s available and where. This is what was missing from the validator.

Allow us to explain…

In a GBFS feed, the location of a vehicle looks like this: 

And station locations look like this: 

This isn’t very human-readable, and how would you know when you validate the dataset if this vehicle is even on the right side of the globe? Introducing Visualizations. You can now see a map of all the stations, vehicles, and geofences of a dataset on the GBFS Validator interface. If it is modeled with coordinates in a GBFS feed, you will now see that information on a map.

Let’s show you how it works with a dockless system 

You simply take any GBFS feed’s auto-discovery URL (that’s the one ending in gbfs or gbfs.json), paste it into the validator and instead of choosing Validate me!, choose visualization instead. You’ll then be able to see the number of stations (if applicable) and vehicles. Scroll down and you’ll be met with a map. In the top left corner, you’ll be able to toggle which elements you’d like to see: dockless vehicles (purple for bicycles, blue for scooters) and that system’s geofencing zones. 

Now let’s take a look at a station-based system 

The process is the same as for dockless, except this time you can see stations on the map, color-coded depending on the number of vehicles available in those stations. Red for zero, yellow for 1 to 5, and green for more than 5. 

What’s next?

We are so excited about this new feature on the Canonical GBFS Validator, and we can’t wait to improve upon it even more. If you see something that you think we can do better, let us know at sharedmobility@mobilitydata.org

You can check the GBFS feeds list on systems.csv and for more general information about BGFS, go to gbfs.org.