Transport for London (TfL) is hoping that new data coming from Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help ease congestion in London, according to the organisation's CIO Steve Townsend.
Townsend told V3 that the IoT is on TfL's agenda, and that it is up to people like him to understand what it can bring to the organisation.
"We are looking at data from the IoT and how it could mean we work differently in London," he said.
"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 use our internal data from the IoT."
Townsend explained that TfL is looking at deploying sensors to capture data on passenger behaviour.
"We are increasingly thinking about how and where we're deploying sensors. We are considering carefully about putting sensors on everything as there is a cost and there has to be a business case for deploying them," he said.
TfL is running a number of trials on areas where it believes it makes sense to deploy sensors.
"So we've put sensors on some lifts and escalators so you can predict when they're going to [break] down, and use the sensors for proactive maintenance," Townsend said.
TfL is also deploying Bluetooth beacons in congested areas of London to identify bottlenecks, and is using WiFi data to work out where people are at different times of the day.
However, the main area where sensors could be useful is on new trains, according to Townsend. He said that TfL will equip new Underground, Crossrail and Crossrail 2 trains with onboard sensors that can generate all sorts of data.
Townsend emphasised that all of the data collected is anonymised, and that TfL will not know that a specific person got off the tube to go to Barclays Bank in the morning, for example.
"That's not the intention. We're looking at how groups of people move around to improve the way TfL predicts journey plans, and inform people of where congestion is," he said.
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