All posts by Stephen Irvine

Stephen is a TfL Community Manager and editor of the Digital Blog and Experience London blogs.

Journey PlannerNews

Interplanetary Journey Planner Set for Launch

After months of hard work behind the scenes, TfL Online are delighted to announce the upcoming launch of our latest digital innovation, with the new Interplanetary Journey Planner.

The new functionality will allow you to plan a point-to-point journey to any known location within the solar system, using public transport, walking, cycling or rocket options.

This will include journeys to many of the best known trans-Neptunian objects, including Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, Salacia and Eris.

Plan your point-to-point journey to the red planet

To boldly go where no man has gone (using Journey Planner) before… You’ll soon be able to plan your point-to-point journey to Mars and beyond

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Traffic Data Hack Day – Register Now

**Registration for this event is now closed**


TfL’s Urban Traffic Control System (UTC) uses 12,000 sensors located at junctions across the Capital to measure traffic flow. The data produced is used to drive SCOOT – the traffic light optimiser system – and on Wednesday 6 April we’re aiming to generate greater value from this as-yet untapped data source.

We want to configure a data processing engine for UTC data and begin exploring this large data set using the tools business users are familiar with, such as R Studio and Tableau, as well as event streams, map reduce type platforms and machine learning tools.

The event is part of our ongoing drive to work with the dev community to create great products from our open data, and offers an opportunity to learn and experiment with cloud tools in a safe, sandbox type environment. Experts from TfL’s Road Space Management team will be on hand to provide support.

Where and when

Venue: Amazon Development Centre, Leadenhall Court, One Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 1PP

6 April 2016 09:00 – 17:00

Lunch will be provided, so please let us know any dietary requirements.

To register

Please confirm your attendance by Tuesday 5th April – you can register for the event here:

Venue for the hack day

Amazon are hosting the Traffic Data Hack Day on April 6 at the Amazon Development Centre in Leadenhall Street, London

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London Marathon – Road Closures Data

The London Marathon is one of the most famous sporting events in the world, and thousands of participants will once again be taking up the challenge through central London on April 24. There will be significant road closures on and around the route of the Marathon and drivers are advised, where possible, to avoid driving in central and southeast London from early morning until evening.

There are typically full road closures, starting early in the morning between Greenwich Park and St James’s Park. Central and City closures will typically include all approaches to Upper Thames Street, Tower Hill and Victoria Embankment. Rotherhithe Tunnel, Tower, Southwark and Westminster bridges will also be closed. A phased reopening of roads usually takes place from around midday with all roads expected to be fully reopened by 19:00.

Some roads that are nearby the closures are also generally busier as a result of drivers seeking alternative routes, and we’re determined to help road users as much as we possibly can on the day of the event.

What have we done?

To allow third parties to understand the extent, scope and timing of these road closures, we’ve created a data set of all the road closures that will be in place for this year’s London Marathon. This has been created using an industry data exchange standard called DATEX II.

This is part of a pilot where we’ll be trialling a different approach to releasing data, with the intention of helping developers make great products for drivers.

The London Marathon

Our road closures data set for the London Marathon is part of a pilot to allow us to trial a different approach to releasing data. Picture via

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Disruptive Technology & Road Transport – Event Review

The Disruptive Technology and Road Transport event took place last Wednesday, February 10, and was part of the Streets Ahead exhibition currently running at the New London Architecture.

The purpose of the event was to continue TfL’s engagement with the technology sector and road user groups, to consider how technology is introducing new challenges and opportunities for the way the road network functions. It was also a good chance to help shape our collective thinking on how to respond, and to identify the role that the tech sector can play in solving some of the challenges London faces.

The event was split into two halves, with speakers presenting to the audience in the first half before a group discussion across multiple tables, with each tackling a different topic.

The speakers at the event were as follows:

  • Chair’s Welcome: Ben Plowden (TfL)
  • Scene Setting: Isabel Dedring (Deputy Mayor for Transport)
  • The Future is Now: Greg Lindsay (Journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker.
  • Traffic Management in the Digital Age: Alan Bristow and Helen Chapman (TfL)
Isabel Dedring

Isabel Dedring, the Deputy Mayor for Transport, introduces the major themes of the afternoon in the opening presentation

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Disruptive Technology & Road Transport Event – Register Now

Register now for the Disruptive Technology and Road Transport event, taking place at New London Architecture on Wednesday February 10. 

With London’s population on course to grow to more than 10 million by 2031, it’s never been more important for organisations to understand how to plan for the future. But with so many developments and kickstarters already being worked on, how do businesses work out whether ipads, autonomous vehicles or hoverboards are the future when thinking what the world will look like in 20 years time?

On 10 February, renowned future thinker Greg Lindsay will be holding a presentation and discussion session with London’s Deputy Mayor, Isabel Dedring and TfL’s Ben Plowden, as the centrepiece of the ‘Disruptive Technology and Road Transport’ event being hosted by the New London Architecture.

London’s population is set to grow to more than 10 million by 2031. How will technology shape our lives as we face this challenge?

London’s population is set to grow to more than 10 million by 2031. How will future technology shape our lives as we the city grows at such a rapid pace?

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Standardisation in roads open data

This week we have a guest post from Duncan Elder, an Associate with IBI Group and a specialist in transport data, spatial information and customer information systems.

In Part 4 of the series on the Unified API on this blog, Tim discussed TfL’s roads open data and gave guidance on how to build apps using this data. Having worked closely with TfL for some time now, this prompted me to expand upon Tim’s post with a look at a long-standing issue around this kind of data – standardisation.

Whilst it is widely agreed that data held by transport agencies should be made open, there remains a question over how easily this open data can be exchanged and used by various parties. UK public transport agencies have been rather ahead of the curve here, as the exchange of train, bus and tube information is underpinned by the use of standard approaches for describing data, such as exists with NAPTAN and TransXchange, and the equivalents in Europe; Transmodel, IFOPT and NeTex.

This means that in the UK we are used to seeing widely available public transport journey planners and information from a range of different providers, all of which would be unlikely to exist without a standardised approach from the various sources of open data which power these tools.

However, when it comes to roads open data things are much more complex, with the data held by public bodies less centralised, the number of miles of roads much greater than rail, and the number of possible sources of roads data far greater. This includes an increase in the use of crowd-sourced data, in addition to existing sources of road information, which adds to the difficulty in establishing a standardised approach to data provision.

Road data

Open data for roads is a complex proposition, with many more miles of road than rail and a far greater number of possible sources

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Is customer flow data useful to developers?

With a real focus on our Unified API and open data policy in recent months, both on this blog and through the Hackathons and events (such as the Urban Traffic Hackathon a few weeks ago) that TfL staff have been involved with, we’ve received lots of great feedback and questions from the developer community, just as we’d hoped we would.  

One such question that has cropped up many times is one around customer volume and flow data, i.e. how can we help developers create apps that take into account how busy certain lines, stations, platforms, etc are likely to be when customers are planning a journey. 

To provide an update on where we are with this data, TfL’s Data Services Manager Ryan Sweeney offers this summary, and asks for your feedback to help us ensure we’re providing data that is both relevant and useful: 

Queen Mary University

Participants at TfL’s Urban Traffic Data Hackathon, held at Queen Mary University in November.

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AGI Awards for Geospatial Excellence – WebCat wins

Back in July, Yaron gave an overview of WebCat – a unique TfL tool designed primarily for developers and town planners, giving them information on transport connectivity when deciding what to build where.

We also knew that WebCAT could be a great tool for Londoners to compare between places to live or work, or even just to play with those beautifully coloured maps that tell them new things about places they know.

You can check it out for yourself here.

This week, at the Association for Geogrpahical Information (AGI), we were delighted that WebCat was named as a winner in the AGI Awards for Geospatial Excellence 2015. WebCat won The AGI Award for Excellence in Research & Development.

As AGI describe it; ‘This award acknowledges those projects that have advanced best practice, technology or tools to the benefit of the geospatial industry.’

WebCat is primarily aimed at urban planners and developers, but appeals to a much wider group

WebCat is primarily aimed at urban planners and developers, but appeals to a much wider group

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Urban Traffic Data Hackathon – Nov 14-15

Roland Major, Enterprise Architect within TfL’s Information Management team, reports on the Urban Traffic Data Hackathon.

In the last post on this blog, Tim introduced the roads data available in our unified API, describing its importance as we encourage road users to check before travelling while we carry out our Road Modernisation Plan.

We continue to engage with developers to help us in making driving in London better, with innovative solutions to traffic, road disruption and planned works information through apps created from our open data. As part of our engagement with the developer community we held an Urban Traffic Data Hackathon on 14-15 November.

Supported by our Roads Space Management team, the event was planned in order to give us the opportunity to engage directly with developers to work on creative and innovative solutions to the challenges on London’s roads. In putting the Hackathon together, we worked with Data Science London (DSL), the largest data science community in Europe, and arranged for data scientists and innovators who are members of DSL to take part in the event.

Queen Mary University hosted our Urban Traffic Data Hackathon on 14-15 November

Queen Mary University hosted our Urban Traffic Data Hackathon on 14-15 November

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Web Analytics – Over 100m visits in September

With the TfL website having now been live for around 18 months, the Analytics team within TfL Online are continuing to see increased levels of traffic arriving on the site and in September we achieved a notable landmark.

With over 100 million pages accessed in the month, September was the first time this year that we’ve surpassed 100m page views without a strike occurring in that month. In comparison with September 2014, we saw a year-on-year increase of 10% as our site received a staggering 23.2 million visits during the month:

September 2015 saw a rise of +10% year on year, with the site receiving over 23.2 million visits during the month.

September 2015 saw a rise of +10% year-on-year, with the site receiving over 23.2 million visits during the month.

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