Civils and stations

09.07.19

TfL begin tracking underground passengers using Wi-Fi

Starting this week, Transport for London (TfL) will begin tracking the movement of their London Underground customers using data from their smartphones.

When passengers use the tube’s free Wi-Fi service, TfL will be able to access GPS data to determine how busy areas of the network are.

The move, announced back in May, aims to gather data from more than 260 Wi-Fi enabled London Underground stations to understand how people navigate the network.

Lauren Sager Weinstein, chief data officer at TfL, said: "The benefits this new depersonalised dataset could unlock across our network—from providing customers with better alerts about overcrowding to helping station staff have a better understanding of the network in near-real time — are enormous."

“While I am excited about the potential of this new dataset, I am equally mindful of the responsibility that comes with it.

“We take our customers' privacy extremely seriously and will not identify individuals from the Wi-Fi data collected.

“Transparency, privacy and ethics need to be at the forefront of data work in society and we recognise the trust that our customers place in us, and safeguarding our customers' data is absolutely fundamental.”

The move has sparked concerns over privacy, but TfL say that passengers can opt out or switch off their devices whilst travelling.

The transport body also claim the data will depersonalised and stored securely.

Informative signs, based on TfL's signs on CCTV across the network, have been installed across the network to inform customers and direct them to a web page with more information.

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