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24 May 2019

London Underground takes steps to enrich rider data

In a statement released on May 22nd, Transport for London (TfL) announced a plan to begin tracking rider location and movement over the WIFI networks installed in some 260 stations across the city, expanding the trial initiated in 2016 in some 54 stations. The technology will enable TfL to automatically access riders’ smartphones to gain access to their location data without specific purpose being granted. This enables a broad, anonymized—storing now history or browsing data and connecting individual users to anonymized tokens—collection of data in support of the TfL’s aim to improve the efficiency of its underground system. Starting from July 8th, the data gathered from the tracking will feed a number of interests, both increasing the level of granular detail available to the transit authorities—knowing what routes people take within their journey rather than mere start and end points—as well as lending added depth to the data utilized by travel apps such as Google Maps or City Mapper—bringing more detailed estimates and information to travelers—as well as potential commercial prospects through the added information they can offer advertisers.

Read more about the program in Wired