Crowdsourcing airport security wait times

Computers & Mobile
Crowdsourcing airport security wait times

Josh Sulkin, of, has created this interesting little Twitter crowdsourcing experiment:

I’d like to announce some major changes to the Apps For America 2 entry, as well as ask for your help in a “crowdsourcing” experiment I’m conducting.

First the experiment…I originally wanted to incorporate the data from the TSA’s airport security line wait time calculator into my website, but unfortunately they discontinued it for some reason:

It seems they are revamping it, but regardless it didn’t provide the information I really want which is real-time data on the wait time at the airport security lines.

My proposal is for you to go to from your iPhone, Blackberry, or other smart phone when you enter a security line and tell me what airport you’re at (a form for this will automatically come up if you’re viewing the website on a mobile phone). Likewise,
when you exit the security line, just click a button on the site to tell me so, and this way I’ll know how long you were in line. If enough people do this, I can get real time statistics on airport security wait times.

I also wrote some code to monitor Twitter, so if you want you can just tweet this message when you enter airport security:

#airportsecurity xxx in

and tweet this message when you leave the line:

#airportsecurity xxx out

where xxx is an airport code like “ord” or “lax”. This way you don’t have to go to my website but I can still monitor the real-time wait times. More information on this is available at:

I have no idea if this idea will work or be a total flop, but this is Sunlight LABS after all, so it seems like a good place to try this kind of experiment. So, if you’re traveling some time soon, consider contributing your wait time. Also, if you like this idea, please spread the word (one way is to mention @flyontime and “TSA crowdsourcing” on twitter). [Thank you, Alberto!]

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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