Reading Borough Council has launched a free service for locals and visitors interested in live information on buses, parking spaces and even cinema times, all through a mobile phone application.
The app comes from mxData, which already provides a similar service to people living in York, Sheffield, Birmingham and Stratford Upon Avon. The Reading system goes further to include local cinema and theatre listings, as well as live info on how late your bus will be in the snow.
The application can be requested from the mxData website, which delivers a text containing a link to the app along with the usual reminders about the cost of mobile data. Assuming you're not worried about that, and can muddle your way through a fairly typical Java-based interface, then you can get photographs from CCTV cameras showing traffic levels, details of available parking spaces and live train and bus information - all remarkably useful, as long as you're not trying to check it while driving.
Less handy is the information about what the Variable Message Signs (VMS) are currently showing, unless they've recently been hacked to show "Zombies Ahead" or similar. "Points of interest" shows post offices, petrol stations and the like, though sadly lacking the skinny on opening times that would make this function superior to Google Mobile Maps in that regard.
"What's on" does include up to date information on films showing, as well as opening times for bars and museums - clearly more important than shop opening times, or when to see a Reading FC game.
But if you're taking public transport in Reading, knowing how late your service is running is a killer app - anything else is a bonus. ®