Guess What's Back? Trackernet Returns

14TH DECEMBER 2010

When it comes to freeing the data, we don't just talk about it - we deliver. We are delighted that Transport for London is today launching its new website area for developers with free live Tube information, showing the location of trains across the London Underground network at any time. It is part of TfL’s digital strategy and of the Mayor’s commitment to putting government data out in the public domain through the London Datastore. It’s great to see TfL leading the way in making travel information available to passengers, how and when they want it, and to see them forging ahead with new technologies to improve services to the public in previously unthought of ways.

TfL is increasingly being recognised, not just in the developer community, but by the British and other national governments, as a pioneer in freeing the data - something that wouldn't happen without the genuine commitment of its management. The benefits are clear - riding one of the "Boris bikes" last week to meet a US delegation from Twitter for dinner, I wouldn't have found a free docking station in Shoreditch without the bike hire apps that are made possible (at no cost to the public) by the simple expediency of TfL publishing the cycle data.
 
The latest addition to the new look developers area is the live Tube travel news feed known as Trackernet. As well as tube train locations, other information includes

  •  
    • Live traffic  disruptions;
    • Realtime road  message signs;
    • Barclays Cycle  Hire docking station locations;
    • Timetable of  planned weekend Tube works;
    • Station locations  (for Tube, DLR and London Overground);
    • River Thames pier  locations;
    • Findaride  (licensed private hire operators);
    • Oyster Ticket Stop locations.

Making the live Tube travel information available is the result of collaboration between TfL and Microsoft, creating the Azure Cloud platform to host the information that will meet the expected demand from thousands of developers. Thank you, Microsoft.  

In the digital age Londoners expect to be able to find out where their tube train or bus is at the touch of a button and that is why having this live tracker feed is so important. By improving the way we help web developers and make this information available to them we can also provide a potential money spinner for the capital’s software development start ups. We are working closely with Number 10 to do what we can to help the digital cluster in London - and one of the most important is by freeing the data.

We are looking forward to seeing what the development community do with this live data.

 

This API is really comprehensive and a great effort by TfL to make it available. Ultimately it benefits all users by the development of third party app developers.

Some minor things that I'd like to see in future versions are:

- Add in missing stations from Live Departures like Goldhawk Rd, Shepherds Bush Market, Westbourne Grove, etc from the H&C line

- More comprehensive documentation - e.g. What does the destination value 500 mean?

- London Overground and DLR support

- Use JSON instead of XML for easier parsing

Android users should check out Tube Chaser from the Android Market :)

 

Tue, 12/14/2010 17:32

Comment submitted by Andy Botting

Bravo!  This is a big step in the right direction, and I am hopeful TfL are setting standard that others will want to match.

Tue, 12/14/2010 21:34

Comment submitted by Peter Hicks

"riding one of the "Boris bikes" last week to meet a US delegation from Twitter for dinner, I wouldn't have found a free docking station in Shoreditch without the bike hire apps that are made possible (at no cost to the public) by the simple expediency of TfL publishing the cycle data. "

TfL is, as far as I am aware, not publishing the cycle data (that is, the data including whether docking stations are currently have free spaces.) Instead, they are just publishing a static list of the locations and maximum capacities. The near-live free/full data is coming from third party websites, such as http://borisapi.heroku.com/ which are scraping the TfL cycle hire Google map - which is not ideal. TfL could redesign their map at any time, and that would immediately break all the cycle hire apps out there, as they are having to get their data via this indirect method. The developer community is still waiting on TfL making the free/full data available via an official API.


Wed, 12/15/2010 13:30

Comment submitted by Ollie

Ollie your comments are correct. We are working with TfL to release an official API in the near future.

Wed, 12/15/2010 18:06

Comment submitted by isa Pric

I am taotlly wowed and prepared to take the next step now.

Mon, 11/21/2011 11:19

Comment submitted by Helene