Transport for London Moves to Windows Azure

Today we have some great news to announce as Transport for London (TfL) has taken to the cloud by moving their new Trackernet data feed – hosted within their Developers’ Area – to the Microsoft Windows Azure platform. This forms the first major step forward as part of their comprehensive Digital Strategy and open data policy initiative.

The Developers Area contains TfL’s data feeds and allows developers to create applications for mobile and other devices for use by the public. Feeds available include information on the location of cycle hire docking stations, timetable data and real time traffic and roadworks information along the entire TfL transport network in and around London.

The latest data feed to be added to the Area and onto Windows Azure is called ‘Trackernet’ – an innovative new realtime display of the status of the London Underground ‘Tube’ network. Trackernet is able to display the locations of trains, their destinations, signal aspects and the status of individual trains at any given time. This works by taking four data feeds from TfL’s servers and making it available to developers and the public via the Windows Azure platform.

Microsoft and TfL have worked in partnership to create this scalable and strategic platform. The platform is resilient enough to handle several million requests per day and will enable TfL to make other feeds available in the future via the same mechanism, at a sustainable cost. To check out Trackernet for yourself, take a look here.

At the launch in London was Chris MacLeod, Director of Group Marketing, Transport for London and Mark Taylor, Director of DPE at Microsoft UK.

Chris MacLeod, TfL’s Director of Group Marketing, said: “This is great news for TfL passengers. We are committed to making travel information available to passengers how and when they want it. Trackernet – which will lead to some new apps and which many developers have already tested for themselves – is a great example of how TfL is using new technologies to provide better travel tools for public transport users.”

Michael Gilbert, TfL’s Director of Information Management, said: “TfL with the help of Microsoft, has created a strategic, scalable technical platform that will aid us in making real-time data sets available; the first of which is Trackernet data.” 

Mark Taylor, had this to say: “TfL asked for a system able to handle in excess of seven million requests per day, as well as being able to scale to handle unpredictable events like snow days. Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Windows Azure is ideal for this kind of task and provides a great basis for the programme of innovations that TfL has planned over the coming years, such as Trackernet. We look forward to continuing to work with TfL and other organisations seeking a secure, trusted cloud computing experience.”