What Transport for London Learned While Tracking Users for a Month in 2016

Public transit agencies don't normally get the kind of fine-grained location and navigation data made possible by tracking phones. London got temporary access to that info at the end of 2016, however.

1 minute read

February 14, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

London Underground

pisaphotography / Shutterstock

James O'Malley reports on the results of a pilot project conducted at the end of 2016 in London: between November 21 and December 19, Transport for London (TfL) tracked the phone on anyone with a WiFi connection enabled while navigating the London Underground.

O'Malley got the first crack at the "utterly fascinating findings that the agency has been able to make from all of our data," while acknowledging that TfL has to justify the collection of all this data.

"Perhaps the number one reason to do the trial was to better understand the journeys that people actually make on the Tube," writes O'Malley in relaying the case made by officials at TfL. The new WiFi data, combined with existing sources of data, offers new insight into route tracking, in-station tracking, and, in a potentially more controversial use for the tracking, data for advertisers.

The first two benefits of the tracking should help with site and system planning efforts in the future, and O'Malley digs into some of the data shared by TfL to get an idea of how the data might improve planning efforts in the future. 

Monday, February 13, 2017 in Gizmodo UK

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