At Postlight, one of our core values is to make a positive difference with the products we build. Few efforts have given us as much personal visibility into that impact as the project we delivered in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The platform we built created a centralized way for the MTA to push a single source of accurate data to lots of different endpoints in real time — so people would get the same information from the MTA app that they saw on the subway screens and on third-party sites, like Google.
We’re a remote-friendly company, but our home base is New York. For many of us, working on the MTA project was working on something we use every day — to commute, to get our kids to school, and to explore the city. On April 12, 2022, when the Brooklyn subway shooting left people injured, confused, and afraid, we found ourselves reflecting on this work. Here’s how three New Yorkers feel about their work on the MTA’s Mercury project and the impact it had on that day.
— Natalie Kurz, Head of Product Design
Ruiyan Xu, Lead Product Manager, Park Slope, Brooklyn
“I want to work on things that help people and make an impact. For this project, Postlight built an internal content management system for the MTA team. They have a few dozen people entering information that goes to thousands of screens and feeds throughout the transit system and to the app, which is then seen by millions of people. The fact that this project makes an impact on that many people every day is thrilling.
The day of the subway shooting, there was immediately so much chaos and pain and ambiguity. My children go to school close to where it happened. In a chaotic situation, we need information to stabilize and understand what’s going on — even something as simple as communicating to riders at a different stop that the train isn’t running right now. Giving people access to information can be a small comfort in a crisis. I hope the work we did helped remove some of their uncertainty.”
Kevin Romoser, Product Manager, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn
“It’s one of my career goals to put good stuff out into the world and have a positive impact. Working on the MTA project has been very fulfilling, and I can see the impact it has on my life — in the day-to-day sense, as well as reframing the larger narrative around public transit and making it a better experience.
When something scary happens, like the Brooklyn shooting in April, people just want to get home as quickly and safely as possible. Any clarity you can give people in a crisis is important. From the messages across the MTA system, it was clear there was a major incident at 36th Street in Brooklyn. It told you: These lines are suspended; here are the major delays. It gave people an idea of what to expect so that they could plan. As service got rerouted, the messages changed in real-time.
Before Mercury, even in a minor event, you just didn’t always know how you were going to get home. You didn’t know if a train was coming. Knowing there are MTA folks using Mercury around the clock to publish real-time updates about service has given me peace of mind in a very real way.”
Kirsten Sorton, Director, Product Design, Jackson Heights, Queens
“This was one of the best projects of my career. I learned a lot about the MTA and how nuanced and complex the system is. The team there is amazing. The MTA folks are wonderful, and they really care about the end users. It’s easy to feel like no one cares about your experience as a subway rider, but I saw they really do.
It was exciting to build and make something that would touch so many people’s lives, including my own. It’s humbling to think that something I helped make contributed to keeping people safe. I know that every alert message I got went through the system I helped create. That’s an amazing feeling.”
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