TfL is looking into how it can use the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the lives of London commuters.
Of all the benefits of living and working in the English capital, the daily grind of a congested commute is certainly not one of them. The rising influx of talent from around the world is putting greater stress on the city’s transport infrastructure, and Transport For London (TfL) are seeking smarter ways to help things run smoothly.
With improvements to journey and service efficiency in mind, TfL CIO Steve Townsend has revealed current trials of IoT technology, along with plans to integrate it across the network in the near future.
Speaking to Computing, Townsend said that, “We [TfL] are looking at data from IoT and how it could mean we work differently in London; we’re looking at how data can maximise every inch of tarmac in London, how we can solve congestion problems, how can we maintain our fleets of vehicles better, how can we use digital monitoring to do maintenance in a more efficient way to maximise our rolling stock, whether it be DLR or Underground or trams, and how we can utilise our internal data from IoT”.
As well as this, trials of connected devices in lifts and escalators have already begun so that breakdowns can be predicted and proactively managed before they occur.
Big Data, Beacons and IoT
Townsend expects that TfL will be able to harness Big Data gathered through its many Wi-Fi networks, to get a better idea of customer behaviour, so that sufficient staff and transport can be made available where and when they are most needed. The organisation is also in the process of deploying Bluetooth beacons in congested areas to detect London’s hotspots.
Speaking exclusively to Internet of Business, Cameron Worth, founder of UK IoT agency SharpEnd, said:
“The IoT will connect passengers to TfL services in a way that will both increase flow rates and reduce congestion. A smart TfL will be able to react to the needs of their passengers to achieve this, whether it is distributing crowds along platforms for more efficient tube boarding, or optimising traffic lights to respond to the presence of cyclists to reduce traffic hold ups. Smart responses to passengers will become invaluable for a more efficient TfL.”