TFL reveals real-time data portal that keeps London’s roads safe

Transport for London, which manages the city's roads and cycling lanes, has revealed how it uses geographical data to keep London’s networks safe and guide its investment decisions.

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TfL is using an online interactive mapping tool that allows staff to use geographic data to monitor traffic and decide how and where to invest in London's road and bridges.

The project is an extension of its Esri UK ‘GIS-as-a-service’ mapping tool it deployed in September last year after the success of its London Games 2012 real-time road network visualisation.

TfL plans to invest £4 billion into existing infrastructure, which it hopes will avoid issues like the collapse of the Hammersmith Flyover. The money will also help to improve cycle lanes and create new, pedestrian and driver friendly roads across the city by 2020. And it needs to keep London moving throughout the entire process.

Its Geographical Information System (GIS) provides an accurate, real-time view of London’s geographic data so it can monitor traffic and the robustness of the roads from one portal. The organisation is in charge of maintaining, managing and operating all of London’s 6,300 traffic signals and has real-time operational command and control through a central hub.

But to do this, it needed a central portal to get an overall view of how the networks are functioning and to improve safety during reconstruction. Since creating a new ‘Surface Playbook’ it has been able to offer engineers and traffic control staff a single view of any of London’s roads.

For example, traffic engineers monitoring the infamously dangerous Elephant and Castle roundabout - which is being reconstructed - can open up Surface Playbook, which shows a map of the city with real-time traffic flow and updates. Clicking on specific sites, engineers can pull up CCTV images to see if traffic is backing up. If this is the case, the engineer simply clicks on the site reference number and enters it into the city’s urban traffic control system to change traffic light signal timings. They then check CCTV again to see if the tailback has cleared.

Not only will this ease congestion but it will also improve road safety during construction work.

This portal is currently used by 500 staff but it is hoped it will be rolled out to 2,000, Alan Bristow, director of road space management told the Esri conference in London this morning.

He said: “London will have a range of iconic road schemes fit for the future and GIS is enabling us to deliver a transformational level of investment on London’s roads.”