TfL hosts data feeds on Microsoft Azure

Transport for London, the agency in charge of the capital's public transport, is using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform to host a new set of publicly-available data feeds.

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Transport for London, the agency in charge of the capital's public transport, is using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform to host a new set of publicly-available data feeds.

TfL is hoping that third-party developers will build mobile and desktop applications that use these data feeds, called Trackernet, which offer rapidly updated information on the current location of subway trains and scheduled trackwork.

The feeds, located at a TfL site for third party developers, were formerly hosted on the agency's own servers. In the new setup, the feeds are relayed from the agency's servers to Azure, where they are made available to the public. The site itself is also hosted on Azure.

The use of Azure will be advantageous in handling not only heavy traffic, but also accommodating large spikes of traffic that may happen when people want updates during snow days and other unusual events, TfL executives said. The system is expected to handle as many as seven million requests per day.

"We are committed to making travel information available to passengers how and when they want it," said Chris MacLeod, TfL's Director of Group Marketing, in a statement.

"Trackernet, which will lead to some new apps, ...is a great example of how TfL is using new technologies to provide better travel tools for public transport users."

The Trackernet feeds are encoded in XML (Extensible Markup Language) and can be accessed by URL (Uniform Resource Locator) Web addresses and parsed using an XSD (XML Schema Definition), also provided.

Photo: Ian Dunster

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