Starting July 8th data uniquely identifying and locating individual smartphones will be collected via Wi-Fi at more than 260 Wi-Fi-enabled London Underground stations. Transport for London (TfL) says the data will be anonymised and used only to help commuters plan routes better and will lead to reduced congestion and fewer delays on the London Underground system.
Tracking individuals via the Wi-Fi signals emitted by their smartphones can be a controversial practice as questions about privacy and data security immediately loom large. Hence companies expend a lot of resources explaining that their motives are benign when asked how they intend to use the data.
Transport for London – the organisation operating the London Underground metro system aka ‘the Tube’ – also recently had some explaining to do as to why passenger smartphone data is being collected via Wi-Fi . TfL says that the purpose of tracking passengers via their phones is to better understand how they use the Tube and to provide real-time information on crowding at stations.