Tracking Your Phone’s Tube Journey

During November and December last year, Transport For London used the London Underground’s Wi-fi network to track the hashes of MAC numbers as they moved through the system. Although tracking the start and end points of a journey is relatively easy, how a large volume of people move between stations has been harder to understand.

Perhaps the number one reason to do the trial was to better understand the journeys that people actually make on the Tube. At the moment, TfL can tell what station you started and ended your journey at based on your Oyster card – but it can’t tell how you got between two locations. [In the example] you can see how popular different routes between Liverpool Street and Victoria are.

So if you travel via Oxford Circus, you do the same as 44% of other people. If you lazily sit on the circle line you do the same as 26% of people making the same journey. And if you change twice – once at Holborn, then again at Green Park, then congratulations, you’re a psychopath.

Big data wins again, and no doubt ‘better adverts’ is the trade off for being anonymously tracked.

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