TfL have been a leader amongst Transport and Government departments in the provision of free and open data to the public, and actively encourage the use of data by 3rd party developers across multiple application domains, with a data subscriber database of 5000+ registered application developers and organisations.
With the use and integration of TfL’s Open data, developers have produced a wide and varied selection of mobile and desktop applications, spanning the fields of travel and trip planning to historic city data analysis and mining. As an early adopter of the Open Data initiative (particularly within transport), TfL has provided Open Data since 2007.
What’s the Unified API?
Due to the complex organisational structure and diverse use of technologies across TfL’s technology estate, the previous Open data provision spanned a large spectrum of quality, accuracy and data formats making it complicated for application developers to be multi-transport-mode applications. TfL’s new unified API aims to make accessing the key public information across all modes of transport simpler.
Its aims are:
- Unification of the the data for modes of transport into a common format and structure (common (canonical) data model)
- Live & Web scale – The Unified API is designed for applications to use in real-time and at high volume
- Low latency
- Support common web and data formats – The Unified API supports output in both XML and JSON format.
- Supportive of future change whilst minimising end-user (developer) impact.
- Metered and managed
Read more about the aims and benefits here.
What data is in the Unified API today?
The API supports all the data requirements of the tfl.gov.uk website. Every data driven aspect (including maps) of the tfl.gov.uk website is powered by the Unified API. If you can see it on our website it should be in the API.
The following table highlights some of the core datasets included and available to developers now.
Additionally the API supports an extensive places capability for looking up and matching locations by name, postcode etc, It also includes cycle hire data. Other datasets are also available for Cabwise, providing locations of registered taxi firms and Webcat, which includes modelling information on transport, such as travel times between locations.
In Part 2 of this post, I’ll discuss how to use the API, along with more detail on how the API works.