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Transport for London lays out its innovation roadmap, says network-wide Wi-Fi is a priority

Scott Carey | July 8, 2016
The innovation manager at Transport for London laid out his approach to emerging technologies yesterday, from IoT to VR and what he plans to do with the increasing amount of data they are collecting to make commuters lives better.

tfl underground

Speaking at the Ogilvy Labs Future of Travel and Tourism event yesterday, innovation manager Jason DaPonte laid out TfL's strategy for emerging technologies.

And when it comes to innovation at TfL, partnerships and collaboration are key, especially in the current financial climate.

DaPonte said: "We can't do it by ourselves so one of the absolute keys to what we are trying to do with innovation is collaboration and that is where we need to be working with startups, new technology companies, brands and all sorts of partners."

"We don't have a huge amount of money for innovation projects," DaPonte said. "We have a huge amount of money for running a railway, bus and road network and keeping it maintained. We have to raise a lot of the money and find innovative ways of working together."


The question that everyone wanted to ask was if TfL will ever be able to offer Wi-Ficonnectivity across the entire network, and not just at stations, and DaPonte was keen to stress that it is a priority for them.

"I can't tell you exactly when, but we are doing a lot of trying to figure that out," he said. "It's incredibly hard because the Victorians didn't leave space for Wi-Fi routers and access points in the tunnels."

"We know that it is something customers are screaming out for and it will enable a lot for us in terms of making our jobs easier in terms of collecting the data and everything else."

DaPonte said that any companies that know of a solution for this problem should approach them through the innovation portal (more on this below).

From IoT to VR

DaPonte went on to lay out five emerging technology areas that TfL is looking at:

1. Virtual Reality: "We are doing a huge amount of work there, how that works as a corporate tool. Augmented reality as well." One potential use is for virtual driver training.

2. Passenger devices and new displays: "The things that passengers are going to be interacting with, so any way we can get better information to customers faster."

3. Sensor ecosystems: "What can we learn about the environment context that people are in through whatever personal devices they have. Be that handheld or wearables."

4. Sentiment: "How are customer feeling, what are their journeys like, what do they want to tell us, in real time? Sure we can just look at Twitter but we know that people only go on Twitter generally if they are having a very bad commute and often with a lot of expletives and not with information that we can act on."


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