Stuck in traffic? Admittedly, even with mapping and route-planning apps like Waze, ride-sharing platform Tripid, subway tracking MRTtrackr and taxi-hailing apps like Easy Taxi, traffic conditions in big Asian cities can still be a drag, especially during rush hours. You still see a lot of cars with only one passenger. You still have to line up for an hour just to ride the MRT. There is still congestion along major routes (while some side-streets are left unused). And bad weather can make everything worse.

Is there a solution in sight? Short of Southeast Asian countries jacking up the cost of acquiring an automobile through certificates of entitlement — as is the case in Singapore — governments are turning to technology. In the Philippines, the Department of Transportation and Communications has launched a contest that will reward developers of the best transport-related apps that will utilize data from the department’s research.

Launched in 2011, the Philippine Transit Information Service has, so far, tracked the movement along 900 routes plied by buses, jeepneys and trains, which includes travel times, fares and traffic. The aim is to develop applications that can be used by both government and the public in easing congestion. With two years’ worth of data, government is now confident this can be used in practical applications.

The DOTC, Metro Manila Development Authority and Cebu City government are launching a three-month competition called the Philippine Transit App Challenge, which challenges developers to build apps and systems that can leverage on this data.

“Our next step is to make the PTIS accessible to the public. The intention has always been to use modern technology in empowering people to make well-informed decisions on their commute,” said DOTC spokesperson Migs Sagcal.

DOTC says the competition will be a “hack-at-home” event, which can encourage a broad array of apps, depending on the need and demand, as determined by developers. “The goal is to create all sorts of apps which will make commuting in Metro Manila much more convenient,” said Migs in a statement. The winner gets PhP 100,000 (about US$2,500) and gets to be nominated to the Mobile Premier Awards 2014, which will take place at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next year. Honorary awards and popularity awards are also at stake.

The contest will be officially launched at the Toyota Auditorium of the University of the Philippines’ Asia Learning Center in Diliman tomorrow morning.  More details are available at the Philippine Transit App Challenge hack at home website.

Featured image credits: Art Phaneuf – LostArts / Shutterstock