Thursday 12 May 2016 12:03 pm

Open data: London is streets ahead when it comes to helping commuters plan their journey - but we mustn't become complacent

Whether we’re trying to navigate around traffic jams or route closures, find the quickest way to a meeting or explore a new area of the city, many of us rely on technology to identify the best route to take.

Transport and navigation apps have been allowed to flourish in London thanks to the availability of real-time and static data, but not every city in the world is embracing open access to data in the same way.

Our new data hub Vital Cities – which awards connectivity ratings to 12 cities across the world – shows that London is streets ahead of many of its global counterparts when it comes to capitalising on the potential of data.

Transport for London (TfL) provides open access to its real-time and static transport information – which includes the likes of maps, congestion updates, estimated journey times and closures across all transport models.

Using this data, developers are free to create navigation apps and other digital aids – CityMapper is a good example, but there are plenty more out there.

TfL estimates that the annual value of the time saved by tourists, commuters and residents through the use of its data could amount to £116m. The policy has also nurtured a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism, with more than 460 apps powered by TfL data and 8,200 developers have registered to access the data.

London’s open data policy has set the standard for other cities across the world. 

As a result of these findings, we are calling on governments all over the world to implement effective open data policies that encourage everyone – from web and app developers to residents and tourists – to make use of the wealth of data available.

Although London has made massive strides with the open data policy itself in recent years, the job certainly isn’t finished yet. In fact, Singapore is leading the way when it comes to the most user-friendly and informative travel apps.

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, for example, provides its own web and mobile-based route planning tool and app, which includes additional features not yet available to Londoners.

This includes information about standing and seating room on public transport, as well as disabled access and the availability of parking spaces close to the passenger’s chosen destination.

Connected cities, those with well-networked, efficient and sustainable transport systems, enhance the ability of people and enterprises to interact, exchange and innovate. Ultimately our goal is to make cities places in which people can thrive.

Technology and data have offered us a real opportunity to do this, and it’s critical that we embrace these benefits.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.