Category: Developers

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.

We consolidate the data, which is provided in a client-specific format, into a common structure available through the TfL Unified API that third-party users can consume in a simple, generic way. We have worked closely with Zap-Map, the leading source of information on EV charging points for the UK, to fine tune our API data for third party users. You can view the TfL points on their map and filter on taxi only rapid charge points.

Screenshots of Zap-Map app showing TfL Charge Point for taxi use only at East Finchley LU Car Park

Although the physical ECPs can differ considerably between concessionaires and even a single concessionaire can have different models of charge stations, we transform the data associated with them into a consistent, dynamic parent-child structure of ChargeStation with one or more ChargeConnectors.

As part of our import process of this data, we exclude ChargeStations (and therefore related ChargeConnectors) that are considered outside of the Greater London area.

Charge Stations and Connectors

A ChargeStation is the physical appliance, that may be one of several in a specific location. It has a unique identifier and name, as well as being designated to a latitude-longitude position.

It is also possible that a single ChargeStation can support multiple parking spaces.

A ChargeStation can have one or more ChargeConnectors. The connectors represent the physical connecting alternatives that can be accessed at a time, and each one has a unique identifier and name, as well as an occupancy status associated with this element, along with the other properties, detailing the type of connection, power, etc.

Unified API

From the TfL Unified API, both the ChargeStation and ChargeConnector core data is available via the existing Place endpoint(s) and the current availability of a ChargeConnector is through the Occupancy endpoint(s).

The core data is the key information that describes the Station and Connector, and the information that comes from the concessionaires is accessible via the additionalProperties field collection. The most relevant attributes of each additionalProperty are the category, key, and value. Common keys for all ChargeStations are “ConnectorCount”, “Location”, “Name”, “Reference”, “PricingUrl” and “Restrictions”. Common keys for all ChargeConnectors are “ConnectorDescription”, “ConnectorType”, “ParentStation”, “Power”, “Status”.

Special Note: The “Restrictions” field will identify if the charge station is for Taxi Use only.

The core data is updated daily from the independent concessionaires and we recommend this data is downloaded and stored on local servers for reference and performance.

You can specifically request the different Place Types, but in doing so you will not get the parent-child mapping between the two. The recommended request is as follows, which will return all Greater London ECPs.

https://api.tfl.gov.uk/Place/Type/ChargeStation,ChargeConnector

The response to this request would include a collection of all ChargeStations with child ChargeConnectors, as well as ChargeConnectors as top-level objects. A request can be made using the Place endpoint and the unique id to return just a single Place.

[{
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.Place, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "id": "ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114",
 "url": "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114",
 "commonName": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square Station 24114",
 "placeType": "ChargeStation",
 "additionalProperties": [
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Name",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square Station 24114",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Reference",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "ChargePointCM-24114",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Location",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PN, GB",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Url",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "https://chargemaster.com",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorCount",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "3",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "PricingUrl",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "https://polar-network.com/tfl-pricing/",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Restrictions",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Public",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 }
 ],
 "children": [
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.Place, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "id": "ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49925",
 "url": "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49925",
 "commonName": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square Station 24114 Connector 1",
 "placeType": "ChargeConnector",
 "additionalProperties": [
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ParentStation",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "ChargePointCM-24114",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Status",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Available",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorType",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "CCS",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorDescription",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Combined Charging System",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Volts",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "400",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Amps",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "125",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Power",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "50kW",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Phase",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "DC",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 }
 ],
 "children": [],
 "childrenUrls": [],
 "lat": 51.516525,
 "lon": -0.144647
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.Place, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "id": "ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49926",
 "url": "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49926",
 "commonName": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square Station 24114 Connector 2",
 "placeType": "ChargeConnector",
 "additionalProperties": [
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ParentStation",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "ChargePointCM-24114",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Status",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Available",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "OriginalConnectorType",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "CHADEMO",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorType",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "CHAdeMO",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorDescription",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Type 4 CHAdeMO",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Volts",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "400",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Amps",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "125",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Power",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "50kW",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Phase",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "DC",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Cost",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 }
 ],
 "children": [],
 "childrenUrls": [],
 "lat": 51.516525,
 "lon": -0.144647
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.Place, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "id": "ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49927",
 "url": "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49927",
 "commonName": "Q-Park, Oxford Street, Cavendish Square Station 24114 Connector 3",
 "placeType": "ChargeConnector",
 "additionalProperties": [
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ParentStation",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "ChargePointCM-24114",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Status",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Available",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "OriginalConnectorType",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "IEC62196_2TYPE2CONNECTOR",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorType",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Type 2",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "ConnectorDescription",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "Type 2 Connector",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Volts",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "400",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Amps",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "63",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Power",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "43kW",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "ElectricalCharacteristics",
 "key": "Phase",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "AC3",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 },
 {
 "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.AdditionalProperties, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
 "category": "Description",
 "key": "Cost",
 "sourceSystemKey": "ChargeMasterChargePoint",
 "value": "",
 "modified": "2018-02-24T17:44:21.223Z"
 }
 ],
 "children": [],
 "childrenUrls": [],
 "lat": 51.516525,
 "lon": -0.144647
 }
 ],
 "childrenUrls": [
 "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49925",
 "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49926",
 "/Place/ChargeMasterChargePoint_ChargePointCM-24114-49927"
 ],
 "lat": 51.516525,
 "lon": -0.144647
 }]

To check the current status, use the Occupancy endpoint, passing the type name of ChargeConnector and comma delimited array of relevant ChargeConnector ids.

https://api.tfl.gov.uk/Occupancy/ChargeConnector/CPBP-ccecd35e-94b1-4056-878b-aa99bf8b5e58-1,CPBP-0a06d81f-a489-40b7-b866-a52fe3da71aa-1

You can exclude the ChargeConnector ids, but this is not recommended as it will return the current status of every connector across the Greater London area, and may take a few seconds to download.

The status is updated within our system every five minutes, but the response is only cached for 60 seconds. The response includes

[{
        "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.ChargeConnectorOccupancy, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
        "id": 41441,
        "sourceSystemPlaceId": "CPBP-0a06d81f-a489-40b7-b866-a52fe3da71aa-1",
        "status": "Available"
    },
    {
        "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.ChargeConnectorOccupancy, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
        "id": 41440,
        "sourceSystemPlaceId": "CPBP-ccecd35e-94b1-4056-878b-aa99bf8b5e58-1",
        "status": "Not Available (Fault)"
}]

Current status values include: “Available”, “Broken”, “Future”, “In Use”, “Not Available (Fault)”, “Not Available (Future)”, “Operational”, “Unknown”, “Unknown (Not Available)”

If an invalid ChargeConnector id is supplied, then a 404 response will be returned indicating any charge connectors not recognised.

https://api.tfl.gov.uk/Occupancy/ChargeConnector/CPBP-ccecd35e-94b1-4056-878b-aa99bf8b5e58-1,CPBP-0a06d81f-a489-40b7-b866-a52fe3da71aa-1,jkhjkashdkjh

The response to the above request would be:

{
    "$type": "Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities.ApiError, Tfl.Api.Presentation.Entities",
    "timestampUtc": "2018-01-24T14:55:27.980254Z",
    "exceptionType": "EntityNotFoundException",
    "httpStatusCode": 404,
    "httpStatus": "NotFound",
    "relativeUri": "/Occupancy/ChargeConnector/CPBP-ccecd35e-94b1-4056-878b-aa99bf8b5e58-1,CPBP-0a06d81f-a489-40b7-b866-a52fe3da71aa-1,jkhjkashdkjh",
    "message": "The following charge connectors are not recognised: jkhjkashdkjh"
}

Additional Place endpoints allow for Places (and of a specific type) within a bounding geobox.

As always, we love to hear what you are building with the API, or if you have any questions, let us know in the comments below or on our Tech Forum.


* As always, the API usage examples in this blog are anonymous, so the quota is strictly limited. For a real application, developers should register for an API key.

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

Read More

DevelopersInformationNews

New study quantifies value of open data to London

Further to the Shakespeare Review which used TfL’s open data activity as a case study in 2013, we asked Deloitte to carry out a more comprehensive study on the value of open data to our customers, users and London overall.

Northern ticket hall entrance to Kings Cross St. Pancras Underground station

There are more than 600 apps powered by TfL’s open data, and these are used by as much as 42% of Londoners.

Read More

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

 

DevelopersNewsTech Partnerships

Accelerator programme for mobility start-ups

It’s great to see so many customer-facing apps using TfL’s open data. With over 600 apps in areas of public transport, active travel and healthier streets, we are continually focused on releasing new data.

There are lots of people involved in the ecosystem, ranging from app developers and start-ups to accelerator programmes.

Read More

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.

Read More

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
DevelopersNewsTech Partnerships

Ticketmaster and TfL Hack Day

It was great to be part of London Tech Week through the excellent Hack Day on Friday June 16, put together by the teams at Ticketmaster and Transport for London. With over 600 apps powered by our data in the market place, I always look forward to these events as it allows me to raise awareness of TfL’s open data approach providing the opportunity for organisations and individuals to develop their own creative solutions.

This has helped to form new businesses, create jobs and launch new customer-facing travel products, giving customers more choice on their devices. A great part of this process is that this type of event is open to everyone at no cost, so we saw students, corporate professionals, freelancers, academics and participants from other sectors.


Read More