Transport For London Suspends Underground Data Service

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The live data feed for the London Underground Departure Board has been suspended after it was swamped with app-based data requests

Transport For London (TfL) has confirmed that it has suspended its London Underground Departure Board (Train Prediction) data, after it was swamped by “overwhelming demand by apps.”

The suspension is only temporary, but a TfL spokesperson confirmed to eWEEK Europe UK that the service has been down since Friday 2 July.

Normal Service ‘In Two Days’

From Wikimedia Commons - user Thryduulf

However he said that he hoped the service would be restored within the next 48 hours.

The spokesperson could not give the exact reasons for the crash, but pointed at TfL’s decision last month (15th June) to open up the data for commercial applications.

“The change in our T&Cs meant that developers could use our data for commercial gain, hence the rush,” said the spokesperson.

According to TfL, since the feed went live a fortnight ago, it received ten million hits a week. “This was one of the reasons for the crash,” the spokesman confirmed.

“We are really encouraged that the feed to our Tube departure information is so popular and TfL is doing everything to restore it as soon as possible but this may take some time,” said Steve Townsend, Director of Information Management for London Underground, in a statement.

“We’re sorry for the temporary disruption to this API Beta feed and we will provide an update as soon as we have further information,” he added.

Tube Data is popular

The crash shows that TfL’s data is proving extremely popular among developers, who are adding the feed to their iPhone or Android-based apps. This data feed is also provided to train stations and live traffic cameras, and will soon include data from bus stops and bus routes as well.

The crash also mirrors the increasing strain being felt on mobile networks, thanks to the increasing popularity of smartphones.

O2 for example blamed the data strain caused by smartphones such as the iPhone on a number of network failures last year. O2 has since scrapped its unlimited data bundles, as has many other operators.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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