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TfL uses Wi-Fi data for Journey Planner changes


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Transport for London (TfL) has implemented the first significant changes based on its harvesting of data from the Wi-Fi networks in its Underground stations.

It has updated its Journey Planner to more accurately reflect the time it takes to travel through stations, which it said results from the analysis of 2.5 billion pieces of data.

The changes are also being applied to TfL’s Unified API for app developers.

It began to collect the data in July, harnessing information on Wi-Fi connections from more than 260 stations. Its system automatically depersonalises the data and does not collect any browsing or historical details from any devices.

The station information affected by the changes include that for Baker Street, Canada Water, Earl’s Court and Notting Hill Gate. Adjustments have also been made for stations towards the end of Underground lines to take account of increased passenger numbers.

Lauren Sager Weinstein, chief data officer for TfL, said: “Our lives are now more data rich than they have ever been and therefore we are working to use this data to allow our customers to better plan their journeys and find the best routes across our network.

“These changes to our online Journey Planner using depersonalised Wi-Fi data collection is just the start of wider improvements we are hoping to introduce which will provide better information to our customers and help us plan and operate our transport network more effectively for all.

“As we do this, we take our customers’ privacy extremely seriously. It is fundamental to our data approach and we do not identify any individuals from the Wi-Fi data collected.”

Further potential

TfL said work is also underway to see what further information can be sourced from depersonalised Wi-Fi data, such as understanding where customers interchange on key routes.

Aggregated data is also being prepared for use by TfL’s planning teams to better understand customer flows through stations, and by its advertising partner Global for the positioning of ads. In future it will be used to help highlight the effectiveness of ads to contribute to efforts to raise revenue.

Image: TfL Journey Planner app in use

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