Category: Developers

DevelopersInnovationNews

London RoadLab – our street, your lab

This week we have a guest post from Rikesh Shah and Daniel Gosselin from our Commercial Innovation team.

We recently launched London RoadLab, a new way of working with innovators.

London’s transport network has been consistently delivering new technology and innovations. We are home to the very first underground railway and, in 1868, the first traffic light was introduced in London. We couldn’t imagine London without traffic lights now, but 150 years ago our roads were revolutionised by taking something used for the railway and applying it to motor traffic.

More recently, we have developed a world-leading contactless payment system, and launched our open data products. Our open data now powers nearly 700 apps, used by 42% of Londoners and has not only allowed us to work more closely with app developers, but has generated new jobs and enabled Londoners to plan their journeys through their channel of choice.

Technology continues to develop at a faster rate than ever before and it’s important that we continue to embrace the latest innovations to help us deliver better services for our customers. Following the success of open data, we wanted to explore how to work more closely with innovators to develop new products that solve our problems.

We have also been exploring what else we can do better and what problems we can solve. One of these is roadworks. Roadworks on our strategic roads have an estimated £2 billion cost to London’s economy every year, and, whilst we appreciate their importance in keeping London moving, we also know we must continue to find new and innovative ways to reduce the impact they have on the city. We knew we needed to find new ways to work with innovators to create useful and tangible solutions to solve this problem. We also knew it was important to offer unique access to our assets and expertise, and to be able to take the products forward at the end of the programme.

Sign up for RoadLab

It’s true to say that this area of innovation is new for corporates and the public sector. The value to innovators of getting to work with companies like TfL to develop something that solves citywide problems is significant, and we need to offer opportunities like innovation partnerships to enable us to deliver this.

Building on our research over the past few months, we have created a new process for bringing innovation into public sector organisations and working with innovators beyond a set programme. We are offering unique insight into TfL, providing expertise, data, and pilot sites alongside a programme of mentoring and business support from our partners at Plexal.

If you think you can make roadworks in London safer, smarter, or more inclusive please sign up today.

APIDevelopersNews

Unified API: New data – Electric Vehicle Rapid Charging Points

Zero emission capable (ZEC) vehicles have environmental and financial benefits, and are vital to London becoming a zero carbon city by 2050. We are working with partners to develop a network to help you charge them quickly and efficiently.

Rapid charge points can charge an electric vehicle battery in 20-30 minutes. This is quicker than regular charge points that can take 7-8 hours for a full charge.

The majority of these charge points allow for pay as you go payment using a credit or debit card – you don’t need to be a member.

They allow high mileage users, such as electric taxi and private hire drivers and freight and fleet operators, to quickly charge their vehicle. We have committed to install 150 rapid charging points by the end of 2018 and have at least 300 by 2020.

Electric Vehicle Rapid Charge Point (ECP) data is supplied to us from a number of concessionaires who install and manage charge stations across the UK and Europe. These concessionaires include British Gas, Charge Master, FastNed, Bluepoint and ESB, although at present not all of them have facilities in the Greater London area.

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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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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

 

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. 

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