AdWeek Europe: Transport For London Looks For Next Stage Of Open Data
Theory without data is useless, but if you’re not using data to prove a hypothesis, you’ll drown.
Transport for London, the organisation that runs the city’s public transport network, is looking to take its use of open data to the next level.
Speaking at Advertising Week Europe, TfL marketing director Chris Macleod and Stuart Bowden, chief strategy officer of media agency MEC, talked about how the organisation’s decision to make its operations data available to app developers has already generated between £50 million and £60 million of value.
“We pioneered making operations data freely available,” Macleod said. “Now there are more than 8,000 developers, media owners, and so on taking our data, and 450 apps have been developed.”
According to Macleod, TfL is now researching “what the next stage looks like.” Describing it as “open data 2.0,” Macleod said the organisation would make available “the data that would help others to help us all.”
“We’re thinking about where we go next with open data. We want a closer relationship with developers,” he said.
TfL manages 3.7 billion customer journeys a year—or 31 million journeys a day—resulting in enormous amounts of data being created. Macleod stressed that while customers’ personal data is never shared, the operational data is used to plan services better.
“I’m less in the demand generation business than in the capacity planning business,” he explained.
Both he and Bowden emphasised that although TfL creates massive quantities of data, the scale of the data is less important than what can be done with it.
“Data is no use at all without knowing what you want from it,” Bowden explained. “These days theory without data is useless, but if you’re not using data to prove a hypothesis, you’ll drown. There’s just too much of it.”
Macleod agreed: “The questions you want to answer determine the data you need.”