Transport for London (TfL) is now in the final stages of testing its new HTML5 website as it embraces new forms of IT to help meet user demand.
TfL first announced plans to launch a beta version of its HTML5 website last year. Head of online at the organisation, Phil Young, confirmed to V3 that since then work has continued rapidly and it is now on the final stage of testing before its full launch in the coming months.
“We launched [in beta] in June last year and since then we’ve added features such as journey planner and road tools, and the ‘nearby’ tool that lets you know which transport options are close by,” he said.
“We are now onto the final stage, which should go live at the end of the month and which will add more information such as fares for journeys, and then we should be ready to go live once that’s completed.”
So far, during testing, TfL said user feedback has been positive and mobile users in particular are showing keen interest in the new site, with 80 percent of traffic coming from mobile devices.
“Normally about half our traffic is from mobile devices, but now it’s up at 80 percent in the beta and if that continues after launching we’ll be serving many more customers,” he added.
To meet this potential surge in demand TfL has moved the site to the cloud with Amazon Web Services, as this fits its demand requirements far more effectively, as Young explained.
“The usage patterns for our site are very spiky. Most of the time it runs at a modest rate but at some point, perhaps during severe weather, it can rise a lot, so we need to be able to scale for that,” he said.
“It’s not very cost effective to keep hundreds of machines up and spinning all the time so it’s much more cost effective the way we have modelled it.”
He added that TfL was confident the use of the cloud would not lead to any outages, as it has set up the system with backups as required.
“The architecture is highly resilient with multiple instances so that if one fails it moves over to another and if one site fails, it can move to another data centre in another region. It’s about making sure you’ve considered everything,” he said.
Young also noted that plans have now been completed to use Google Maps for all its geolocation services, having previously used five different tools, including Microsoft Bing, for different parts of its site.
Firms are starting to embrace HTML5 so they have a cross-platform web tool to serve content to users on ever-growing numbers of devices and operating systems. Online betting firm Bet365 is one such company that has also gone down this route.
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