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.


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News

Facebook Messenger: TfL TravelBot

We’re proud to introduce our Facebook Messenger TravelBot, which has the ability to provide updates on bus arrivals as well as Tube and bus status updates.

Through our two Facebook pages – the main TfL page and the London Underground page – we deal with a huge number of queries every day, and we wanted to make it even easier for customers to get our information on the Facebook platform in a way that’s fast and straightforward. With the open data in our Unified API already helping to provide live information on many services like third-party apps and Twitter alerts, we hope this will be another big step towards enabling customers to quickly and easily access the information they need via social media. 


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DevelopersNewsTech Partnerships

June 16: TfL and Ticketmaster London Hack Day

As part of London Tech Week, TfL are teaming up with the market-leading ticketing company in the UK, Ticketmaster, to host a hackathon at their London HQ. Bring your ideas to life at the London Hack Day, hosted by TfL and Ticketmaster on Friday June 16.

Join us at our hack day in association with Ticketmaster on June 16, part of London Tech Week

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News

Your App – Use of TfL Design and Logos

It’s great to see that there are now over 600 apps using TfL’s datasets to develop customer facing products, and these products have a huge role to play in helping people to move around the capital. The Digital Partnerships team at TfL continues to engage with developers through this blog, the recently launched Tech Forum, as well supporting the introduction of new data with recent examples including Cycle Superhighways, Cycle Quietways and busiest times at stations. We are also looking at ways to improve our data based on your feedback.

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

If your app is using TfL’s registered trademarks or intellectual property, you should amend your design

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Journey Planner

TfL Journey Planner Updates – 09 May

Welcome to the latest instalment from the Journey Planner team, designed to keep you up to date with new timetables, stops and points of interest which have been added to the system and timetable data sources over the past week. The Unified API is updated with new Journey Planner data up to five times a week. 

This week’s update features a number of changes to bus services.

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Journey Planner

TfL Journey Planner Updates – 02 May

Welcome to the latest instalment from the Journey Planner team, designed to keep you up to date with new timetables, stops and points of interest which have been added to the system and timetable data sources over the past week. The Unified API is updated with new Journey Planner data up to five times a week.

Spring / Summer Timetables for all River Bus services are now available, as well as those for Thames River Services, Circular Cruise Westminster and Thames River Boats. Embankment Pier has now reopened.

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Journey Planner

TfL Journey Planner Updates – 18 April

Welcome to the latest instalment from the Journey Planner team, designed to keep you up to date with new timetables, stops and points of interest which have been added to the system and timetable data sources over the past week. The Unified API is updated with new Journey Planner data up to five times a week.

Bus routes 38 56 73 341 and 476 are diverted northbound between Islington Green and Essex Road Station via Upper Street and Highbury Corner.

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DevelopersInformationNews

The TfL Tech Forum is Live

We’re delighted to announce that the TfL Tech Forum is now live, and is ready for you to use right away. With more than 11,000 developers working with our open data to develop innovative products, the TfL Tech Forum will be a lively space where developers can connect with experts from the TfL Online team, providing a platform for discussion around all aspects of our open data and Unified API. With over 600 travel apps powered by TfL, it’s great to see new product features being developed, and a key area of focus is accessibility (see this previous blog) – we encourage you to develop new features for your product using our data.    

The TfL Tech Forum is now live and ready to use. Connect with our technical team and other developers to discuss all aspects of our open data and Unified API

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DevelopersInformationJourney PlannerNewsTech Partnerships

Data Themes #1: Cycling in the City

We recently made available the route data for all our current Cycle Superhighways and the new Quietway 1 so developers can accurately map the existing cycle network in their apps, making it easier for cyclists to find and use these routes. The data will be regularly updated as more Cycle Superhighways and Quietways are completed in the coming years.

The promotion of these cycling routes is part of the delivery of the Mayor’s new blueprint for a healthy London, which will see increasing physical activity put at the centre of a wide range of GLA and TfL policy, setting out how it could transform the lives of millions of Londoners.  The new route data complements the extensive data we already provide on cycling in our API and as downloadable files. Here’s an overview of what’s available.

A Santander Cycles docking station: The promotion of cycling routes is part of the delivery of the Mayor’s new blueprint for a healthy London.

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