Interview with Steve Veerman about hsrmap

Check out the interview below with Steve Veerman (@veerman) about the app he created!


And if open data applications sounds like something you’re interested in working on, check out the open data development session next week:

When: Wednesday April 22nd from 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: Innovation Factory @ 175 Longwood Road South

What: Open Hamilton development session – a time for people to work on their Open Data projects together, and find projects to work on. (Contact: Anand Sinha, E-mail: anand underscore sinha at yahoo dot com).



veermanTell me about yourself.

I’m a freelance software developer & marketer, and a very proud lifelong Hamiltonian.


What is is a mobile web app which displays the location and routes of all HSR buses in near real-time.


Why did you create

The short answer is that I was frustrated with the HSR’s “Bus Web” mobile experience. I tend to catch the bus by walking to the nearest stop and waiting. I wanted the ability to gauge whether there is time to grab a coffee or if I need to stay put because the bus is just around the corner. Essentially I wanted to make the experience of riding the bus slightly easier.


How many people have been using

Since the March 5th launch to today (April 16th) I have had 1623 visits and 2328 page views. Interestingly enough, 55.7% of the traffic comes from visiting directly, meaning that many people have either bookmarked it or can easily remember the domain name. I remember asking myself whether I should buy a dedicated domain, but now I’m glad I did it.




How did you get the word out about

I made a single post on Reddit (/r/hamilton) and a single tweet. I really didn’t expect much to come of it, but was delighted to see such a great response. Transit in general seems to be an important issue to Hamiltonians.


What technologies did you use to build

I tried to keep the creation of as simple as possible. For my backend I used Linux, Apache, and PHP with the GTFS-realtime Google PHP library. For my frontend I decided to use jQuery Mobile since my target is mobile web browsers.




How long did it take you to get it up and running?

A functioning MVP was built in about 4 hours on the night of February 28th. I spent a few hours on the following days to add routing, vehicle movement animation, vehicle svg icons, update interval, etc. I finally decided to publically announce it on March 5th. I’ve made small improvements since.


What are your future plans for

In the near future I hope to improve the location accuracy of the buses. The current Open Data GTFS feed updates every 45-75 seconds. This means that it isn’t truly live data. Curiously enough, the HSR’s Bus Web site (powered by Trapeze) seems to have more frequent updates. Either they have access to better data or they are predicting the current bus location based on speed/schedule/last known location. Regardless, I would like to implement a vehicle prediction algorithm of my own so that the buses on the map always appear to be moving.


What are your thoughts on Open Data in Hamilton? How is it important?

Open Data in general is very exciting. It allows developers to easily design, build, and implement applications that benefit Hamilton. The advantage to the city is that they essentially get free (and arguably better) labour out of the deal. I’d be curious to see how much money they paid Trapeze for Bus Web.




What do you think should happen next, both from the standpoint of the Open Data community and the city’s releasing of Open Data?

I view Open Data as another form of public infrastructure. Good infrastructure requires good planning. It is the city’s responsibility to taxpayers that they invest in creating good Open Data infrastructure for the development community to build on. I believe a little forethought by the city on this issue can enrich our lives and could ultimately save taxpayers money. I would love to see more departments take this issue seriously. For example, Tourism Hamilton currently provides no access to their event information in a developer friendly manner. I believe if Tourism Hamilton provided better access to events occurring within the community via Open Data, developers could build more engaging applications. Interestingly enough, is built on WordPress, and it would be fairly trivial to provide this functionality.


Any advice for developers thinking about taking on open / community type work like this?

My advice would be to talk with others in the Software Hamilton community and start building. I would also encourage developers to pressure the city to release or improve data as necessary. Ideally, I’d love to see McMaster or Mohawk encourage the development and creation of student Open Data initiatives. If you are a student there, start asking some questions or forming Open Data communities of your own.


iPad Adult Literacy App Study


If you’re a McMaster University student interested in participating in a study involving an iPad application to teach literacy skills to adults, check out the below form! Unfortunately due to the research ethics constraints the study is only open to McMaster students, but I thought it may be worthwhile to share it on Software Hamilton regardless. :-)


WordPress meetup on Thursday



When: Thursday April 16th from 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Where: Imagination Plus @ 69 John St S #304, Hamilton, Ontario


Join us for our next meetup! Come and meet other WordPress users, developers, bloggers and more in and around Hamilton!

This month Shanta Nathwani will be giving a presentation on how to make the most of JetPack, a plugin with many, many ways to improve your site – from site stats, to allowing people to subscribe by email to blog updates, to customizing the look and feel of your website without having to change any files.

Shanta R. Nathwani is an IT and Social Media Consultant and an Instructor in Web Design and CCIT Capstone at Sheridan College, which includes teaching WordPress. The ICCIT program is a joint program with the University of Toronto at Mississauga. She teaches students and small businesses how to use their websites and social media to increase their online presence leading to increased revenues and improved customer service. She has assisted companies to incorporate social media in the real estate, financial, non-profit, education and technical fields to name a few.


7pm – doors open, networking

7:30pm-8pm – news, presentation

8pm-8:45pm – networking, discussing WordPress, Q&A

8:45pm-? – Likely Tailgate Charlie’s to hang out for a bit and talk WordPress!


Introduction to Arduino workshop April 21st



When: Tuesday April 21st 2015 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: McMaster Innovation Park @ 175 Longwood Road South


The Arduino workshop is an introduction to microcontrollers, the “computers” that run our everyday devices. This workshop is suitable for anyone wanting to know more about the Arduino buzz. Software developers that are looking to make the leap into embedded programming or entrepreneurs wanting a better understanding of how hardware fits into the product design cycle.

Doug Petican is an electronics technologist, entrepreneur, and maker enthusiast. He has worked in government and industry for over 20 years, and started experimenting with electronics and computers in his teens during the 1980’s. Doug likes experimenting with anything hardware, particularly LEDs.

Please note this is a beginners workshop, advanced Arduino concepts will not be presented. Arduino boards will be shared but feel free to bring your own.


Code clubs featured in The Hamilton Spectator



The Hamilton Spectator published an article “Cracking the code in Hamilton schools” by Emma Reilly this weekend covering the code clubs starting up in Hamilton-area schools, excerpt below:


The public board has teamed up with the Industry Education Council of Hamilton to help bring computer programmers into schools to help both teachers and students learn to code. Now, there are several “Coding Clubs” across the board.

“There seems to be a big push for code almost as a new literacy,” said Jared Bennett, a 21st Century Learning Consultant at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

Read the full article here


It’s awesome to see The Hamilton Spectator covering the code clubs!

I was actually hoping to blog about my own experience with a club, but mine hasn’t started up yet (though it looks like it will soon). I’ll keep updating with what I can as these clubs continue.


Siemens provides McMaster with $458M software grant



HAMILTON, ON, April 9, 2015 - A multi-million dollar software grant from Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software business will give students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario the opportunity to use the same technology in its design and manufacturing research programs that businesses around the world employ to design some of today’s most sophisticated products.

The in-kind software grant, with a commercial value of more than $458 million, includes Siemens’ NX™ software, Teamcenter® portfolio, Tecnomatix® portfolio, LMS™ solutions, the Fibersim™ portfolio and the Syncrofit™ portfolio. These software offerings represent a comprehensive set of solutions for computer-aided design and manufacturing, finite element analysis, lifecycle data management, digital manufacturing, systems engineering, simulation/test, and multi-material/composites design optimization. Siemens is a leading global provider of PLM software and services for a wide variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, machinery, medical devices, shipbuilding and electronics.

The grant announcement was made today during the McMaster Manufacturing Forum, a full-day event held at the McMaster Innovation Park, McMaster Automotive Resource Centre and a number University campus labs, which brought together industry experts, research staff, faculty, students and other stakeholders and included panel discussions, information sessions and an industry open house. The forum’s theme this year is Manufacturing a Renaissance: A Made in Canada Solution.

Engineering students and faculty will use the sophisticated software at the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute, one of the largest institutes of its kind in Canada. The 15,000-square-foot facility is designed to meet the complex needs of leading manufacturers in the polymer, automotive and aerospace industries, as well as the tool, die and mold industry.

The software will help enable students to develop the advanced skills required by the more than 77,000 global customers who already use Siemens’ PLM software and technology solutions, including 29 of the world’s top 30 automakers and 18 of the top 20 aircraft and engine original equipment manufacturers.

Siemens places great emphasis on collaboration with Canada’s academic institutions. Since 2014, Siemens Canada has signed seven memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with colleges and universities in Ontario and Alberta with the aim to provide enhanced support and training for tomorrow’s skilled workforce, fostering innovation and driving economic activity in Canada. MOUs currently exist with McMaster University, Mohawk College, Seneca College, Sheridan College, University of Waterloo, University of Alberta (Edmonton) and North Alberta Institute of Technologies (Edmonton).



“This grant further strengthens our relationship with McMaster and our commitment to providing today’s engineering students with the opportunity to employ these real-world PLM software solutions in their research and academic work. Siemens is on the leading-edge of technology globally, and we are proudly helping to empower the next generation of highly-skilled graduates.”
– Robert Hardt, President and CEO, Siemens Canada Limited

“Our students will now be able to use industry leading design, analysis and manufacturing software to solve real world problems in their design courses. This means they will have the opportunity to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to contribute immediately when they graduate and the solid background needed to support a productive lifelong career in manufacturing.”
– Stephen Veldhuis, Director, McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute

“McMaster University is pleased to strengthen its robust partnership with Siemens Canada. In-kind contributions such as this enable McMaster to provide the best technology possible to our students so they can drive innovation forward in today’s evolving manufacturing sector.”
– Ishwar K. Puri, Dean, McMaster University Faculty of Engineering


About Siemens Canada

For more than 100 years the innovative ideas from Siemens have helped make Canada a better place. From the Atlantic to Pacific oceans, more than 4,500 employees in Canada work together to provide answers that last in the fields of electrification, automation and digitalization. Since it was federally chartered in 1912, Siemens has stood for innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. Sales for Siemens Canada in fiscal 2014 (ended September 30), were $2.7 billion CAD. The company has 39 offices and 12 manufacturing/assembly facilities across Canada. Further information is available at

About Siemens AG

Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 165 years. The company is active in more than 200 countries, focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is No. 1 in offshore wind turbine construction, a leading supplier of combined cycle turbines for power generation, a major provider of power transmission solutions and a pioneer in infrastructure solutions as well as automation, drive and software solutions for industry. The company is also a leading provider of medical imaging equipment – such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging systems – and a leader in laboratory diagnostics as well as clinical IT. In fiscal 2014, which ended on September 30, 2014, Siemens generated revenue from continuing operations of €71.9 billion and net income of €5.5 billion. At the end of September 2014, the company had around 357,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at


Sound Options wins second annual Synapse Competition


Hamilton, ON (April 9, 2015) – On April 8, Hamilton’s life science community gathered at McMaster Innovation Park to take part in the Synapse Life Science Competition final showcase.

The event showcased ten teams: seven through poster presentations while the top three teams presented their innovations live on stage to a panel of industry experts, competing for over $35,000 in cash and professional resources.

The top three finalists – Avertus, Blue Orchid and Sound Options – each had 20 minutes to impress the judges, which included executives from Amgen Canada, ASK Solutions Inc., Trellis Capital and Johnson & Johnson.

Sound Options was named the grand prize winner for their effective, affordable and convenient sound therapy for people suffering from tinnitus, a hearing condition that produces ringing in the ears. The company took home $15,000 cash, a $5,000 IP package, and a life science specific $5,000 consulting package from SHI Consulting.

Dr. Michael Chrostowski, founder of Sound Options, spoke to the impact that the awarded prizes will have on his company: “Sound Options will be able to benefit from the prizing we received from this competition in so many ways in our immediate future,” he said. “The prizes could not have been more timely. The Synapse competition and the supporting ecosystem are among many reasons why Hamilton is a great place to start a company. We look forward to continuing to grow and providing more tinnitus sufferers with an effective and customized sound therapy.”

The company’s cutting-edge software analyzes an individual’s tinnitus and hearing loss profile to develop a customized sound-therapy treatment that is clinically proven to be more effective than other solutions, and produces results in half the time of the leading competitor.

Blue Orchid and Avertus both tied for second place, each receiving $1,500 cash and a $5,000 IP package courtesy of one of our legal partners Gowlings, Ridout & Maybee, and Sabeta IP, and ANDzyme took home the poster board prize of $500 cash and an introductory meeting and $1,000 consultation package from Willow Tree Capital.

Avertus has created a home based, wireless, brain monitoring and seizure warning system with active dry electrodes. Over 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy and assessment times for treatment can be lengthy. This is because patients often do not realize they are having a seizure, which can lead to brain damage over time or even death. Avertus has designed a comfortable, home-use technology, which would allow physicians to record brain waves (EEG) without requiring extensive, time-consuming and uncomfortable patient preparation.

Blue Orchid has developed the OrchidLift: a compact and portable sit-to-stand lift aimed to provide an affordable, simple solution to lift, transport and assist with patients’ mobility in their own home. Inaccurate handling and lifting of patients by caregivers can put both parties involved at high risk for further injuries. With the aging population, devices that allow the elderly to remain in their own home longer are becoming increasingly important.

Executive Director at Innovation Factory, David Carter, points to the Synapse competition as a testament to the Hamilton’s growing strength in the health and life sciences: “The innovations we saw today have the potential to be life-changing,” says Carter. “I’m thrilled that our region is paying attention to research coming out of the life sciences. Synapse has shown that Hamilton’s life science cluster is thriving and I’m confident we have the supports in place here to help take these ventures to the world stage.”

The seven poster board finalists included: 12 Squared Diagnostics, ANDzyme, Colourimetric Biosensing, DNA Quantifier, Qidni Labs, RotaNovus and Virtual Possibilities. After the top three finalists presented to the audience, the judges deliberated while keynote Niall Wallace, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Infonaut Inc., discussed his own experience building Infonaut from a start-up, to the successful evidence-based infection control company it is today. His talk touched on pitching for investment, what investors look for, and pointers for growing Hamilton’s life science cluster.

The event concluded with Dr. Clive Ward-Able, Executive Director, Amgen Canada, the appointed judge-representative, announcing the winners live on stage.

The Synapse final showcase is the culmination of months of hard work. Back in January, the competition teamed up life science innovators with business and engineering students from McMaster University. Together, each team produced both business and commercialization plans for their ventures. All of the finalists also participated in training sessions to help them complete the plans and fully prepare for the final showcase.

Generous prize contributors included Hamilton Health Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Mohawk College, Bay Area Health Trust, McMaster Innovation Park, Ridout & Maybee LLP, Gowlings LLP, Sabeta IP, SHI Consulting, Willow Tree Capital, and supporting partners included McMaster Industry Liaison Office, Ontario Centres of Excellence, TechAlliance, W Booth School of Engineering, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hamilton and St. Joseph’s Healthcare.


Download Beam app to use tonight at DemoCamp

Editor’s Note: Beam will demo tonight at DemoCamp, and they would like attendees to download the app before the event so they can use it at DemoCamp!


Beam is new way to meet and engage with people at events.

How Beam works?

Simply download the app, make a profile, and you can start finding people around you. What’s unique is that we give people the ability to tell their story by beaming it to others within 50m. Think of it like a local bulletin board where people share their interests, their profiles, and discussions.

It’s very easy to Beam your story, but even easier to exchange contact info. You’ll never need to search, type phone numbers, or write anything again, just Beam it.

So what are you waiting for, let’s get Beaming. Get the app now at for iOS and Android. Please install before democamp for best results.


EntrepreneurDrinks on April 23rd

A happy hour for startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and professionals.

Join us for a night of networking and drinks. Thursday, April 23rd. 5-7pm The Baltimore House

Brought to you by Platform 302, CoMotion On King, and The Hamilton Freelancers Association.


When: Wednesday April 23rd from 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Where: The Baltimore House @ 43 King William Street Hamilton, Ontario





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