Transport for London (TfL) has said that passengers travelling through London’s underground network will be tracked through the wifi beacons on their smartphones
TfL said that the data will be used to improve network management by gaining a greater picture of how commuters use the transport network.
For instance, TfL would be able to send passengers targeted information about how they can avoid congestion.
The plan could also yield commercial benefits. By gaining a greater understanding of how passengers move through its stations, TfL would be able to price advertising based on where it sees the heaviest footfall.
“By understanding how many customers we have and how they move around stations (e.g. the total number of unique devices passing through a zone of a station) we will be able to maximise revenue from the companies which advertise on our poster sites and those who rent retail units on our property,” the company explained on its website.
TfL introduced free wifi access to 97% of London underground stations in partnership with Virgin Media on Monday (8th July).
The transport authority said that it will depersonalise any data collected so that it cannot identify any individual.
Lauren Sagar, TfL’s chief data officer, said: “We take our customers’ privacy extremely seriously and will not identify individuals from the Wi-Fi data collected.
“'Transparency, privacy and ethics need to be at the forefront of data work in society and we recognise the trust that our customers place in us.'”