London Underground will start tracking passengers through Wi-Fi

Following a trial in 2016, Transport for London (TfL) will roll out Wi-Fi tracking on the London Underground.

In a press release TfL announced that “secure, privacy-protected data collection will begin on 8 July 2019” with improved customer services such as alerts about delays and congestion within stations.

TfL also stated that individual customer data will not be shared and customers will not be personally identified from the data collected.

TfL wrote:

Using depersonalised Wi-Fi data, will give a more accurate, almost real-time, understanding of the flow of people through stations or interchanging between services.”

TFL have been working closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office and key stakeholders to ensure all privacy concerns and transparency were considered and addressed.

Passengers will have to turn their Wi-Fi off if they do not wish for their data to be collected.

Laura Sager Weinsten, Chief Data Officer at Transport for London 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.

“By better understanding overall patterns and flows, we can provide better information to our customers and help us plan and operate our transport network more effectively for all.”

Weinstein added:

“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.”


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