TfL has partnered with Virgin Media to bring WiFi access to 250 London Underground stations to provide customers with internet access. Find out more about station WiFi.
We are running a WiFi connection data collection pilot between 21 November and 19 December as WiFi data has the potential to provide us with a far better understanding of how customers move through stations. We will use the data collected to test how useful it could be to improve our services, provide better travel information and help prioritise investment.
When a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet has WiFi enabled, the device will continually search for a WiFi network to connect to. When searching for a WiFi network, the device sends out a probing request which contains an identifier specific to that device known as a Media Access Control (MAC) address.
If the device finds a WiFi network that is known to the device, it will automatically connect to that network. If the device finds unknown networks it will list these in your device settings so you can decide whether to connect to one of them.
When you are near one of our station WiFi access points and you have WiFi enabled, your device will request to connect which will be received by our WiFi network, even if your device does not subsequently connect.
Collecting these device MAC address connections may help us to better understand customer movements through and between stations, by seeing how long it took for a device to travel between stations, the routes the device takes and waiting times at busy periods. During the 29-day pilot we will collect device MAC addresses at stations within the pilot area listed below. All data collected will be de-personalised (pseudonymised) to ensure TfL is unable to identify any individual.
TfL will not collect any web browsing data, or data from website cookies, generated by your device as part of this pilot.
WiFi data has the potential to provide a greater understanding of crowding and collective travel patterns so we can improve services and information provision for customers. This may enable us to improve the operation, planning and provision of travel information on London Underground. Four potential key benefits have been identified where the analysis of WiFi data could benefit our customers:
Providing better customer information for journey planning and avoiding congestion.
Understanding how customers move around stations could help us to manage disruptions and events more effectively, deploy staff to best meet customer needs and ensure a safe environment for all.
By better understanding how our customers use the Underground network, we can better plan timetables, station designs and major station upgrades.
By understanding how customers move through and around stations we may be able increase revenue from companies who advertise on our poster sites and who rent retail units on our property to reinvest in improving your services.
Although Oyster and Contactless Payment Card ticketing data helps us understand where customers enter and exit the London Underground network (as well as any intermediate validations), it doesn't tell us the platforms and lines customers are using, the stations they interchange at and how they navigate around our stations. Due to the nature of the Tube network, there are many options that customers could take for their journey. Traditional paper surveys are expensive, only provide a snapshot of travel patterns on the day of survey and are unable to provide a continuous flow of information. WiFi data may provide more accurate information to improve our services.
No, we will not be able to identify any individuals. We are trying to understand how customers as a whole use the network, not how specific individuals use it.
Each MAC address collected during the pilot will be de-personalised (pseudonymised) and encrypted to prevent the identification of the original MAC address and associated device. The data will be stored in a restricted area of a secure server and it will not be linked to any other data.
As TfL will not be able to link this data to any other information about you or your device, you will not receive any information by email, text, push message or any other means, as a result this pilot.
Yes. If you do not want TfL to collect your MAC address, you can either turn off WiFi on your device or put the device into airplane mode whilst in one of the 54 London Underground stations included in the pilot (listed below). Once you have left the station simply switch WiFi setting back on or turn off airplane mode to re-enable WiFi connectivity.
As we will not be able to identify the original MAC address because we have de-personalised data, we will not be able to identify you and so cannot provide a copy of the WiFi data generated by your device.
TfL will stop collecting this data at 23:59 on Monday 19 December. We will then analyse the data to test how useful it could be to improve our services, provide better travel information and help prioritise investment.
Once this process is complete, we will be able to decide what to do next and communicate this to our customers.
All of the stations included in the pilot are listed below: