Archived: Over the Air 2015 – TfL talk Open Data

The 7th Over the Air took place on the 25th & 26th of September, 2015 at St. John’s in Hoxton, London and Transport for London were delighted to provide two speakers at the event on Friday 25th.

Over the Air is an annual 2-day event where the mobile developer community come together for ‘Hack Days,’ aimed at driving learning, collaboration and experimentation amongst developers, with software development recognised as a creative discipline. You can read more about the history, ethos and structure of the event on the Over the Air website and follow them on Twitter.

Rikesh Shah, Lead Digital Relationship Manager and Gordon Watson, Chief Technical Architect at Transport for London, were there to provide an overview of Open Data at TfL and to outline our commitment to the provision of free, open data which enables app developers to produce a huge range of travel products.

Over the Air
Transport for London’s Rikesh Shah, Lead Digital Relationship Manager and Gordon Watson, Chief Technical Architect, presented TfL’s Unified API at Over the Air 2015

Rikesh outlined TfL’s purpose, to keep London working and growing, and how the expected population increase of 10m by 2030 (equivalent to 2 full Tube trains of people arriving every week and staying) will place unique demands on all our services, including digital tools. As we put customers at the heart of everything we do, Open Data is crucial in delivering information even quicker as we aim to meet increased customer demand.

He went on to explain that with around 6,000 registered developers using our Open Data to produce around 370 apps from that data, TfL are actively encouraging innovation and creativity within the developer community to help them produce ever-improved travel information apps.

Gordon introduced the Unified API, which you can read about in detail on this blog: Part 1 introduces the Unified API, and Part 2 explains what data is available and how to use it.  Look out for more posts on the various data types in the coming weeks.

Gordon explained the rationale of making the data as simple as possible to use for developers, and how the Unified API would do this by providing a huge amount of data in one feed.

Open Data TfL
Rikesh gave an overview of TfL’s Open Data, which includes a wide range of both live, and reference data that is freely available to developers.

A key point of Gordon’s presentation was the fact that we want developers to use and provide feedback on the Unified API, as the TfL Online team aim to further engage with the developer community and understand how we can best serve their needs. Of course, having the opportunity to speak at this event was a great step in the right direction, and we hope to maintain regular, productive dialogue with the developer community as they experiment and innovate with our Unified API.

If you’re a developer currently working with our Unified API, we’d love to hear your feedback on what works and what doesn’t. You can let us know your thoughts by logging in to the portal at and sending us a message through the portal.


  1. From a geo developer perspective, I think providing a GeoJSON output as well as KML would be beneficial. Also potentially providing a Esri Feature Service would be benefical for some users! Potentially look into something

      1. Hi James, thanks for the comment. A GeoJSON feature is something that we have considered and are investigating whether to support. It is available as an unsupported feature on two endpoints providing road data and we are continuing to evaluate its usefulness to TFL and our users. Those two endpoints and the appropriate formatter querystring are:

  2. Can TfL release more data about the TLRN? It would be really useful to have information such as:
    – Access conditions for tunnels (height, weight, width)
    – Access conditions for bridges (height, weight, width)
    – Availability of parking place
    – Location of delivery areas/bays and delivery regulations
    – Road Classifications (height, weight, width)

    This would help improve the reliability of navigation apps, particularly for delivery vehicles, it would also assist in reducing congestion.

    1. Hi Simon, thanks for a really good question.

      We’re working with our Road Space Management and Freight teams to see if we can potentially provide this information as Open Data – there’s quite a bit of work to do in getting it all packaged up together. We’ll post more about our progress, probably in a blog post dedicated to the subject, as soon as we have anything to share.

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