Lots of people are interested in this project, with very diverse backgrounds. This page isn't meant to be prescriptive or limit options; it's just a starter.
The biggest hurdle here is that A/B Street is written in Rust, a language that may have a high entry barrier. If you're more comfortable in Python, R, or something else, there are still ways to contribute -- particularly producing input data for A/B Street to simulate.
If you're a researcher looking for a complex multi-agent simulation with lots of things to optimize, you've found the right place. We have a simple JSON API already you can plug into, but we'd love to improve this based on your use case. Particularly cool ideas could be auto-tuning traffic signal timing or calibrating travel demand scenarios to real-world throughput/delay measurements.
Do you sling around population and aggregated origin/destination data with R or Python? Great, help us generate realistic travel demand models! Work in whatever language you like best; we'll settle on a common format.
You'll need to learn at least some Rust to start here. We can help you a bit with that, especially by recommending starter projects or giving feedback in PRs, but this requires a fair bit of independence.
A/B Street generates loads of individual data through the simulation, but deciding what's important, how to aggregate things, what filters/controls to give to the user, and how to communicate trade-offs is really hard!
We can export data however's useful -- there's a few CSV files that the UI can export today. You can work on analyzing and visualizing the data using whatever tools you like. To actually implement a new dashboard in A/B Street, we'll implement it in Rust, but we can implement/copy what you produce elsewhere.
Some examples where we need help:
- How to aggregate and compare the number of "risky events" somebody encounters on their trip, possibly using some kind of contingency matrix. See this PR for some discussion and open questions
- How to show roads with more/less traffic. See this discussion
We wouldn't have made it to this point without loads of help from our UX designer. We could always use more help here. We use Figma for designs currently.
From what I've seen, no other street map attempt to include lane markings and as much detail as A/B Street. This means there's not much cartography to take inspiration from. Some places we need help:
- Showing arterial vs small residential roads while zoomed in
- Conveying more information about buildings and land use -- is it a small house, some apartments, a shop, a mall, a multi-use development?
- Tuning the color-scheme, especially in a color-blind friendly way
- Visualizing low traffic neighborhoods
- Many people can't recognize the pedestrians and cyclists; how do we represent them better in our 2D top-down view? What should e-scooters look like?
We didn't start A/B Street with a clear set of product requirements or a storyboard for how it should work -- and we've been paying the price of this all along. But newer tools like the 15-minute explorer or the idea for a low-traffic neighborhood planner are focused and young enough where we could properly plan out the features and UI.
A/B Street tries to be a game, but it falls pretty short. Want to help us improve the tutorial? Have some ideas how to split up levels in the challenge mode? Know how to write a story? Help us!
Or maybe you can imagine a new spin-off game reusing some of the work that exists today. That's how 15-minute Santa happened!
That's why we made this! Just go try and make the change, initially without help from us. Write down your experience and all of the problems you hit. Then tell us the problems and any ideas for fixing them.
Then write up a proposal and start advocating for it!
If you want to use A/B Street to argue for some change in your city, get in touch! It's easiest if you:
- Tell us very clearly what you need
- Draw a study area
- Have a pretty specific idea of what roads/intersections you want to actually change
- Have an idea of how you want to communicate your idea; browse our proposals for inspiration
Maybe you're studying urban planning and think our software can help. We have some of the tools to get you started -- importing a new map, changing road configuration and access, measuring comparative results. But you'll probably have to work with us directly to fix up the map data and get a proper demand model. You can help us by giving usability feedback about what's hard to do and ideas for things to add. We're not experts in planning -- if you can tell us how software can help you do your job better, let's talk!
Every so often, we conduct formal usability studies. You'll spend an hour on a videocall doing something in A/B Street and vocalizing your thought process and what problems you hit. We'll use your feedback to find and fix problems.
We only run these every now and then; just contact us to get on the list for the next round.
You're bound to hit problems using our software -- just file an issue when you do.
A/B Street relies on having an accurate and up-to-date model of your city. What do you do when it's wrong?
The most common problem is that a road has the wrong number of lanes, or turn/bike/parking lanes are missing. If you know how to edit OpenStreetMap already, go fix it. If not, you can use the lane editor in A/B Street to fix the problem and make the road match reality. Send us your edits, and we can help make the fix in OSM.
Are you already involved in OSM and want to validate your work? Use our tool to help you visualize lane tagging easily. Keep in mind there are some problems with this viewer that might not reflect problems with the data in OSM -- particularly separate foot/cyclepaths and weird intersection geometry.
Or maybe you think your city is incredibly well-mapped already -- I bet it's missing one thing. Please map street parking -- we need this to guess road widths.
Know an advocacy group or city authority who would want to use our work? Make the connection!
Organizing all of the information, ideas, and people involved with this project is hard. Just writing this page and website took way too many tears and caffeine! We could also use help prioritizing work and coming up with requirements for new ideas.
This website is easy to edit. We could especially use help writing a user guide -- describe how different tools in A/B Street work, or work through examples of how to do stuff.
Our funding is pretty nonexistent, but if we had some, we could hire more people and build useful things faster. Do you know how to write NSF grants? Have you thought of a business model compatible with our values but that would let us financially sustain ourselves? Do you think we should be an LLC, a B corp, a non-profit, something else? Help needed!