News

AECOM CityHack event

Digital technology and data are transforming London’s future. Just from our open data activity alone, there are over 600 apps in London being powered by TfL data and economic benefit of £130m per year in terms of customer, TfL and city-wide value being generated.

However, we want to further harness our data to make the capital a more healthier, liveable and connected place.

Alongside a number of other public bodies: City of London, Environment Agency and the Greater London Authority, we have partnered up with AECOM for their CityHack event that will take place over the weekend of 26th – 28th January 2018.

AECOM will bring together some of the best and brightest minds who are passionate about harnessing data and technology to develop a digital solution to those challenges each of us have set forth that will have a positive impact on London.

For TfL, we want to provide customers with the best information, tools and encouragement that can influence behavioural change towards more sustainable and active travel. We hope to encourage:

  • Active forms for the first and last miles
  • Better promotion of active travel routes
  • Active travel as a more preferable option on planning tools
  • Use of wearables
  • Development of new complementary products that support active travel i.e. not just digital

 Key details for the event:

  • 80 hackers
  • 30 hours
  • 4 challenges
  • AECOM will be awarding a £7,500 prize

 Please see https://cityhack.aecom.com for more details.

We look forward to seeing the results of this hackathon across the weekend and will post about the event in February.

#CityHack18

@AECOM

DevelopersProductsTech Partnerships

TfL continues to engage the developer community

Start-ups and SMEs can bring lots of value to large organisations and TfL is no exception. Through our open data activity, there are over 600 apps in London using TfL data with an incredible 13,700 registered users of our open data. This has generated an economic benefit of up to £130m per year in terms of customer, TfL and city wide value through new businesses being developed by using TfL’s open data.

It’s vital that TfL continues to engage with the app developer community, academics and others through promoting the right challenges, access to the right people and tools, and continually seeking feedback from our open data users. I know we do this through several channels such as the Tech Forum, events and this blog but I’m hoping that we do some more. So, it was great to be involved in two events this weekend:

At TfL, we’re committed to engaging with the developer community to continue to help with the creation of innovative travel tools

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DevelopersInformationNews

New study quantifies value of open data to London

Further to the Shakespeare Review which used TfL’s open data activity as a case study in 2013, we asked Deloitte to carry out a more comprehensive study on the value of open data to our customers, users and London overall.

Northern ticket hall entrance to Kings Cross St. Pancras Underground station

There are more than 600 apps powered by TfL’s open data, and these are used by as much as 42% of Londoners.

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DevelopersNews

Developers – help us improve our open data

We’re holding a consultation into our Transparency Strategy, and we’d love to hear from you about how we can improve.

The Strategy covers our open data products, so we want to hear from the developer community about our Unified API and open data. We want to know how we can improve our products to give you regular, up to date and useful information, as well as the formats in which this data should be published.

We’re also keen to hear how you think this data should be grouped or presented on the TfL website, and whether we need to give further support to developers, stakeholders and researchers who use it.

The consultation is running for six weeks, from 18 September to 29 October.

While we always encourage comments to these blog posts, to make sure your voice is heard visit our Consultation website to have your say

 

DevelopersNewsTech Partnerships

Accelerator programme for mobility start-ups

It’s great to see so many customer-facing apps using TfL’s open data. With over 600 apps in areas of public transport, active travel and healthier streets, we are continually focused on releasing new data.

There are lots of people involved in the ecosystem, ranging from app developers and start-ups to accelerator programmes.

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DevelopersNewsProducts

How we built the TfL Customer API

We are excited to launch our new TfL Oyster app on iOS and Android, which allows customers to top up their Oyster cards, purchase Travelcards and view their journey history. The app was launched last week, and has already received lots of great feedback. We wanted to offer you more insight into how we developed it.

app_feature_graphic_1024x500

The TfL Oyster app launched last week – let us know what you think in the comments section below.

An API – or application programming interface – is a set of subroutine definitions, protocols and tools for building application software¹. We already have a wide range of public APIs, which provide information such as line status, bus status and journey information. To build a mobile application allowing customers access to their Oyster card data through, we needed to write a new API to support this.

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DevelopersProductsTech Partnerships

Nitrous TfL Showcase Evening

Back in March I posted this blog about Nitrous and their accelerator programme, which was focusing on some key transport challenges, and asking for applications to the programme. This short video looks at some of the participants in the accelerator programme, filmed at the event at City Hall on Thursday 22 June, as guests were treated to an evening of presentations and networking. 

DesignExperienceProducts

TfL TravelBot: Designing the conversation

As you may already know if you’re following this blog, we recently released the TfL TravelBot on Facebook Messenger. If you haven’t read them yet, Steven and Charul’s posts will give you a bit of background.
Check out TravelBot here or search for TfL TravelBot in the messenger application. In this post I will explore the reasons for introducing a conversational bot and our learnings around the design of conversation.

Diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles mean that we all use different words to talk about things. This can become frustrating when you’re trying to find something on a website.

In our team, we try to label things in a way that most users will understand, but are well aware of the fact that we will never be able to cater for everyone. This means that some users have to change the way they think to match what they are looking for.


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DevelopersNewsProducts

New open data: Busiest times at Blackwall Tunnel

The Blackwall Tunnel (A102) is one of the busiest places on London’s road network. In recent years, journey times have increased and drivers can expect delays to their journey at some times of day. We’ve released this data to the open data community, to enable developers to build the information into their products.  

Our data shows the busiest times at Blackwall Tunnel so developers can include this information in journey-planning apps

What our data shows

*Follow this link to find the data.

1)    The busiest time in the northbound tunnel on a weekday is from 07:00 – 07:30. In heavy traffic conditions, drivers’ journeys could be 15 minutes quicker if they travelled between 06.30-07.00 instead of 07:00 – 07:30.

2)    The busiest time in the northbound tunnel on a weekend is from 13.30 – 15.00. In heavy traffic conditions, drivers’ journeys could be 15 minutes quicker if they travelled between 12.00-13.00 instead of 13.30- 15.00.

We have made this data available to the open data community so you can use it to create products which display the busiest times at the tunnel, allowing drivers to choose to travel outside of these periods or create products for planning quicker and more reliable journeys.

Tell us what you think

We encourage the community to provide feedback on our new data sets to help us continue to enhance and improve our open data products. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our tech forum.

DevelopersProducts

The making of the TfL TravelBot

We recently launched our first ever Chatbot – the “TfL TravelBot” on Facebook, which uses artificial intelligence to help answer customer queries expressed in everyday language. The bot was launched just two weeks ago and we have already received lots of great feedback. We wanted to offer you more insight into the thinking behind the TravelBot, and shed some light on how we developed it.

 

The TfL TravelBot launched earlier this month – let us know what you think of it in the comments section below.

Why the TfL TravelBot?

Millions of people already use our website to help them get around London, and we’re constantly seeking new channels to make the process even easier. Research indicates that more than half of the world’s population is now online, and more than 50% of those online are active social media users*. Facebook is comfortably the biggest social media platform, and hence we wanted to take the opportunity to provide them with information via their channel of choice.

Why now?

Instant messaging has emerged as the primary platform for communication these days**. With the advent of digital solutions making it easier to provide conversational platform, we felt it was the right time for us to enter the world of bots. We pride ourselves on being early adopters of technology, and wanted to leverage the potential of existing solutions to come up with a product which is one of the first of its kind in the world of travel.

How was it made?

We designed the logic behind the chatbot and it is hosted in the cloud. Every customer message passes through our logic, and the bot then seeks to deliver the best response. We use artificial intelligence enabled by the machine-learning framework to process the customer messages (Natural Language Processing). It works by understanding intent rather than phrases. Once the message is processed, the bot replies with either a response from our unified API or a friendly retort. The bot is intelligent and has the potential to learn over time.

How does it help?

Apart from being the channel of choice for receiving information, our bot will help the customers in many ways. It will help our customers get the information in the quickest possible time with a 100% response rate. For instance, queries like ‘When is my next bus due?’ can be easily automated, saving customers time and meaning they don’t need to wait for a customer services agent to get a response. In the case of more complex queries, the chatbot can prompt you to speak with an agent.

As a business, this frees up the time of our customer service agents and helps them focus on more complex customer queries. We are also be able to handle many more queries in the same time, therefore improving our response rate.

What next?

We’re constantly looking for feedback to improve our products. If you haven’t it tried yet, search for ‘TfL TravelBot’ on the Facebook Messenger app or go to http://m.me/tfltravelbot on your desktop/laptop. More details on how to use the bot can be found in our previous blog.

Please keep your feedback coming in the comments section below. We know there are more things you would like us to include, and we’re really keen to hear from you.

References
* https://wearesocial.com/uk/special-reports/digital-in-2017-global-overview
** http://www.businessinsider.com/the-messaging-app-report-2015-11?IR=T