Closing ceremony of the first MAPATON in CDMX

Date: 24 Mar 2016
Cat: Mexico

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CDMX MAPATON or a collective initiative!

On the 5th of March, at Labarotario de Ciudad, Urbanovacion was invited to the closing ceremony of the first MAPATON of CDMX chaired by Manuel Mancera (Mayor of CDMX).

MAPATON took place in CDMX from the 29th of January to the 14th of February through a mobile application. It has been the collective work of each stakeholder of the Urban Mobility in CDMX from public organizations (government, NGO, civil organization), private companies (Global company and start-ups) to young students. The main purpose was to collect data of microbuses’ journey (or “peseros” in spanish) which abound in CDMX. This way of transport is used by 14 Millions unhabitants of the megacity each day (Setravi, 2007). However, it was not possible so far to get to know about their journeys except by asking to each driver.

MAPATON CDMX, it is 1 application, 3000 participants, more than 51 000 km roads recorded!
Let’s go deeper into this enthusiastic collective initiative.


In Mexico City or CDMX, microbuses or peseros represent 14 million of daily trips (almost 70%, Nely ITDP Mexico).
See figure 1 : daily trip distribution in CDMX.

Usarios Pasajeros en per ciento


Microbuses are operated by several private unions; remnants of protectionist measures taken by Mexico’s government in the eighties. Therefore, the city hasn’t accessed to their real-time data. Indeed, until now it wasn’t possible to get detailed information about their journeys. Users couldn’t plan their routes to go from a point A to a point B. The only way to get these inputs was to ask it to the driver.

Moreover, bus stops mentioned on the front of the microbuses (see picture) are not officials and vary according to each microbus. There is no proper bus station; it can be a simple landmark as a Wallmart supermarket. If you don’t know well the city or where you are going exactly, you are totally lost! CDMX is a city of 1485 square-meters…


A collective initiative from the beginning

Based on this observation, a working session was organized one year back and gathered every stakeholders of urban transport system in CDMX to look for a solution and tackle this issue.

Launched by Laboratorio para la Ciudad (a governmental organization), the initiative has implicated volunteers from civil societies; public institution, start-ups and integrator from the beginning. . According to Angelica Garnica (director of the NGO Planeacion y Desarrollo), “to succeed a project in urban mobility needs to have all stakeholders on-board and a trustful and transparent discussion between them”.

Grupo de trabajo

The technology to solve real urban issues

MAPATON team’s members are all very keen on using technologies to solve urban mobility issues. Logically, they decided to go for the development of a dedicated mobile application to collect data.

The principle is simple:

  • It is available on the Android platform.
  • The application collects GPS data every 10 seconds.
  • Users have to open the application and take a picture of the microbuses they are going to travel with.

A real community of collectors

The initial MAPATON team was composed of 20 persons from 11 organizations. After having completed their first field test with the app’, they understood that they wouldn’t be able to map the entire city by themselves. In one week, they mapped 25 roads whereas they assumed that there are more than 1500 roads in Mexico city/suburban area. To make it a success, MAPATON needed a community of collectors!

To motivate people to participate to this data collection, they decided to go for a gamification of the app’. The incentive was 10.000 dollars of gifts. Game’s rules were:

  • Every-time you record a journey you win points – Points were varying according to the rarity of the roads participants chose to explore.
  • You can play alone or as a team – The ranking was available on participant’s app.
  • You can share your score through social network – It was a way to promote the project and encourage competitors to continue their collect.

To create a community, MAPATON has targeted two categories of persons:

  • Students in universities of urbanism and architecture – Young people are keener on gaming and technologies.
  • Drivers of microbuses – Main actors of this transport system.

At the end, the winning team totaled 1 million points and recorded more than 200 routes which mean they were recorded routes for 12 to 15 hours a day!

Video of final MAPATON :

The implementation

After the reflection phase, MAPATON contest was coming alive on the 29th of January with two main steps :

Data collection

Collection of data took place from the 29th of January to the 14th of February. For 17 days, the 3000 participants were covering streets of Mexico to collect data about microbuses journeys. Some of them were even going up to nearby cities!



144 volunteers were working hardly in using the data to map the journey of the microbuses. Most of them are students in local university.


The results

To summarize, this enthusiastic collective initiative has created :

  • 3 Data bases: Data are totally open-source on the blog of CDMX in several formats API, Excel and GIFS (standard used by transport public for every application).
  • 1 application: The application is available as an open source. It is free of use for every city which would like to duplicate the same. Some rumors of replicates in other cities of Mexico and Latin America are already coming up!
  • 900 Maps : 51000 km were recorded which results to 900 routes of microbuses through CDMX and its suburban areas
  • 1 community: the most important is that MAPATON successfully “built a real community around the data. More than 85% of the participants are ready to participate to a second one and will be confident to promote it” (Humberto Fuerez, Laboratorio de La Ciudad)


What’s next?

PIDES Innovacion Social has already moved on. They organized a Hackhaton with 84 participants at Google office the next week-end (5th and 6th of March). They want to use this database and turn it into useful information through applications which will support users’ daily life.

To be continued…

Be posted as we will be sharing the Hackhaton results in the coming weeks.

  • To know more about this project:
    Hackhaton :
    Mapaton blog :