Project to track phones yields wealth of data

Solihull News - - IT TALK - BY DAVE PINWELL

TRANSPORT for Lon­don ( TfL) pro­vides wifi at al­most all un­der­ground sta­tions and has just pub­lished a very in­ter­est­ing re­port.

This re­viewed its pilot project to col­lect and an­a­lyse con­nec­tions made to 1,070 wifi access points at 54 sta­tions.

From the MAC ad­dresses which iden­tify each phone uniquely, they were able to track move­ments of phones, and there­fore the pas­sen­gers car­ry­ing them, through the net­work.

This gave them a wealth of data, from more than 500 mil­lion wifi con­nec­tions made from 5.6 mil­lion de­vices.

Track­ing a phone from each access point to the next told them what routes pas­sen­gers took through each sta­tion and what con­nec­tions they took be­tween start­ing points and des­ti­na­tions.

Given that a high pro­por­tion of pas­sen­gers carry phones which are switched on, and be­cause these con­nect to access points whether they are in use or not, the re­sults gave a bet­ter pic­ture of how many peo­ple were in ev­ery part of the net­work, at dif­fer­ent times of the day, than ever be­fore.

The con­se­quence, TfL says, will be bet­ter in­formed in­vest­ment de­ci­sions and plan­ning for the ben­e­fit of cus­tomer safety and con­ges­tion re­duc­tion.

They see im­proved cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion as well, sug­gest­ing the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of an app for ad­vis­ing trav­ellers which trains are likely to be less crowded.

There were, though, some sur­prises.

For in­stance, one graphic in the re­port set out the pro­por­tion of jour­neys tak­ing each of 18 dif­fer­ent op­tional routes be­tween Water­loo and Kings Cross.

Al­though why 1.3 per cent of such pas­sen­gers would change trains three times and 1.5 per cent do so twice, when the ma­jor­ity chose one of twelve pos­si­ble routes with just a sin­gle con­nec­tion, looks to be a mind- bog­gling mys­tery that de­fies so­lu­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.