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

Bosch’s Mobility Hackathon

Within just over a day, students and experts from a wide range of academic institutions produced six great products which I was involved in judging with colleagues from the DfT, Direct Line and Future City Catapults.

The concept of teams of strangers meeting 48 hours earlier at the launch event and then building a working proof of concept is amazing. We saw some brilliant ideas; I was particularly impressed with two of the winning ideas from Team Carton and Team ON POINT. The former focused on reducing the amount of deliveries in the Capital by retiming, and potentially merging drop offs into one vehicle.

Team Access focused on helping customers with accessibility needs with better information to make the right trip for them and helping organisations like the NHS to link any appointment with the right recommendation around travel options.

Bosch’s Mobility Hackathon took place last weekend. Congratulations to the winning teams, Team Carton and Team On Point

Hacktrain 4.0

With over a 100 people and about 24 teams working on three different challenges in the areas of customer experience, infrastructure and policy, there were a wide range of ideas.

I was fortunate enough to be judging the policy category which involved a challenge on how corporates could find better routes to engage with and procure from SMEs, as well as other policy challenges such as supporting the DfT on simplifying fares information to rail customers and a call from the Office of Rail Regulators (ORR) on bringing more efficiency on monitor large scale projects. The winner, Team Thorr, strongly answered the ORR challenge.

My overall summary is that with the advances in technology, organisations such as TfL should set out the right challenges and outcomes in mind, start-ups and SMEs can develop some valuable products. Through events like the two from this weekend, it enables organisations like TfL to think about how we continue to engage with start-ups and SMEs focusing on the outcomes set out in the Draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy and TfL’s Business Plan.

It was really valuable to hear from developers, UX specialists and people with ideas about how some of the things TfL can do that can help encourage this community to develop new products and services that supports our city’s goals.

Posted by Rikesh Shah

Rikesh Shah is the Head of Commercial Innovation at Transport for London

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