Transport for London (TfL) will soon begin collecting depersonalised Wi-Fi connection data to improve passenger information on the Tube.
From 8 July, TfL will start gathering data from Underground stations with Wi-Fi to gather more information on how people use the Tube. It says this data will allow them to provide customers with more targeted information to help them better plan their journeys by avoiding congestion and delays.
The new data-gathering system has been developed in-house by TfL and will automatically depersonalise data, with no browsing or historical data collected from any devices.
TfL says it will not identify individuals from the Wi-Fi data collected.
The new data tool is a significant step-up from the current way that TfL analyses passenger journeys, which is by using data from its ticketing system. However, this does not allow TfL to look into how people move through the station.
TfL hopes that the benefits will be felt later this year. It says the data could be used put information on crowding on its website, early warnings on social media about congestion at ticket halls and platforms, as well as providing data on TfL's free open-data app API which could allow app developers and businesses to create new products and services.
TfL chief data officer Lauren Sager Weinstein said: “The benefits this new depersonalised dataset could unlock across our network—from providing customers with better alerts about overcrowding to helping station staff have a better understanding of the network in near-real time — are enormous. By better understanding overall patterns and flows, we can provide better information to our customers and help us plan and operate our transport network more effectively for all."
Sue Daley, associate director technology and innovation at Tech UK, said: “Using Wi-Fi technology to gain real-time insights into how we are travelling around London’s transport system brings to life how data collection and analysis can make a real difference to people’s everyday lives.
“It is also a great example of how different technologies, such as Wi-Fi data analytics and sensors, can work together to help reduce overcrowding, increase service efficiency and provide customised information for travellers that will make our journeys and lives that little bit easier."