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February 14, 2018

TfL: Data sharing key to improving transport system

Transport for London speaks up about what more needs to be done to boost transport innovation across London.

By April Slattery

A new report outlines that data should be shared between travel apps and Transport for London (TfL) to reap the best benefits for the city.

The report from London Assembly Transport Committee outlines shortfalls of standards in harnessing new technology is holding the city back from improvement the transport system. The report outlined that such shortfalls are holding back the Capital’s ability to progress in preparations for a better transport system.

One of the achievements across the city the report did outline was TfL’s opening up of data to support developments for a range of travel apps, such as CityMapper. However both the report suggests there should be exchanges on both parts, allowing TfL to gather data from apps to inform what improvements are needed to the transport network.

Professor Kamargianna, app developer of CityMapper, said that in order to make it easier, data must be exchanged by both parties to reap the benefits.

Kamargianna said: “It is very important to have a two-way flow of data, therefore, yes, definitely provide the data but also for the companies to give back the data and especially the data from on-demand services which can provide the public authorities more information about how people move around.”

TfL: Data sharing key to improving transport system

Driverless cars are just one innovation TfL hopes to bring more of to London.

The report said reciprocating data sharing should be a requirement for all existing app providers, as well as any new ones looking to enter the market. It is also expected to become a principle in the Mayor’s Upcoming Smart London Plan.

TfL said in the report that planning would be made easier if data was shared, in order to effectively map out different routes around the city. The transport body said: “The tens of millions of trips made on London’s transport network every day create a huge quantity of (anonymous) information about how and where people are travelling, which helps us to plan and manage our networks more efficiently.

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“We have opened up our data, such as bus arrival times, to third parties, allowing over 600 apps and other customer-facing channels to be developed. These are used by 42 per cent of Londoners, and combined with the arrival boards at more than 2,500 bus stops, allow us to improve customer satisfaction and make bus services more attractive.”

The report outlines that the implementation of more CAVs, Drones and app-providers across the city will inevitably help Londoners get around the city more easily. However, members of the Assembly agreed that such improvements will require proper planning, for both adopting new technologies such as Drones and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) and app providers.

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Keith Prince, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “The opportunity to improve mobility for millions of Londoners is here but it will require proper planning, transparency and accountability, as well as cooperation with government, boroughs and development companies.

“TfL have been caught napping on the technology front and it’s time to wake up. Uber, then oBike are two examples of a poorly prepared regulator which seems to be making it up as they go along.”

London Assembly committee has advised that an advisory panel should be established by TfL, to oversee the work of transport innovation. The Committee’s report urges TfL and Khan to confirm the steps they intend to take by May, working proactively to shape the market for more transport services.

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