TfL commits to gear up cycle network open data
Cycle Superhighway and Quietways network information to be provided to developers to encourage further development of apps and website to encourage cycling take up
Transport for London (TfL) has announced it is making available information it holds on the Cycle Superhighway and Quietways networks as open data in an attempt to encourage development of new services.
The organisation hopes to encourage app designers to create services that better inform cyclists around safety and journey planning. Further data sets are then expected to be made available for additional routes as they open.
According to TFL, the information will be available to help design apps and sites to map out information on its routes amidst a wider public sector agenda to provide expanded open data amounts to support public and private enterprises.
“This can be combined with previously released open data, such as the location of cycle parking at London Underground stations and the location and availability of bikes from the 780 Santander Cycles docking stations across the city, to help cyclists plan their routes easily,” said the organisation in a statement.
TfL estimates that that around 600 apps make use of the open data it provides for live travel and journey planning services linked to the capital’s tube, rail and bus networks. The latest decision to open up cycling information forms part of initiatives to curb reliance on the use of motor vehicles by linking up with health initiatives launched by the Mayor of London’s office.
Lilli Matson, TfL’s head of strategy and outcome planning for surface transport, argued that the introduction of Cycle Superhighways and Quietways represented a push to improve the availability and convenience of cycling throughout the capital with data viewed as an important way of extending efficiency.
“By providing accurate route information to developers through our open data network, we can help cyclists plan their routes more easily as well as see where cycle parking or their nearest docking station is,” said Matson.
This year alone, public sector organisations and other key bodies such as Camden Council and the Land Registry have committed to expanded open data focuses to broaden the types of services and apps that can be developed for citizens, ranging from key address information to housing stock and road accidents.
The government’s revised Industrial Strategy released earlier this year played up the importance of setting out how to ensure smarter use of government data, which falls broadly in line with some of the aims of the delayed Whitehall digital strategy and the Digital Economy bill that is currently under consideration.
“As well as physical and digital infrastructure, we need to make sure that we also have in place an effective data infrastructure. This means the right elements for an economy in which open data drives growth, efficiency and innovation,” said the Industrial Strategy document.
Despite ongoing commitments from Whitehall to support open data initiatives, including financial support pledged in two successive budgets by Chancellor Philip Hammond, proponents for ensuring more freely available access to a wider number of data sets have urged for a stronger Whitehall push.
The Open Data Institute (ODI) late last year called on the government to “build on its successes” in trying to put in place stronger infrastructure to realise the potential for open data to try and drive innovative public and private services.
The institute said a failure to do so would see the UK falling behind other nations in an ongoing global race to lead data-led innovation and services.
“Data is vital infrastructure for our society and a competitive advantage for a 21st century economy. It is an under-recognised piece of critical national infrastructure that needs government focus and support,” said the ODI at the time.