London Underground will soon be tracking passengers via Wi-Fi

In upcoming months, Transport for London will be tracking commuters who decide to use one of its public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Supposedly, this is to be done in the name of digital transformation and improved consumer services, including delay warnings and station congestion monitoring. In 2016, when the first trials went underway, TfL said they wanted to get a more accurate understanding of the way passengers move through stations.

The changes will go live on the 8th of July 2019. In the newest instalment, they claim to be focusing on investment, and the new insights they will obtain by tracking passengers will give a clearer picture on what they should be focusing on next.

They are planning to generate a massive source of data obtained from 260 Wi-Fi access points scattered all around the Underground, so they won’t need to rely on ticket sales alone when they analyse it. The latter, as they claim, is not detailed enough for them to be able to discern how the customers move through the stations – this is where the depersonalised data obtained through Wi-Fi hotspots comes in.

For those who do not wish to be tracked, despite it being depersonalised, you will need to opt out manually by turning off your device’s Wi-Fi or setting your device to airplane mode. TfL claims they have cooperated with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office to alleviate any privacy concerns. Moreover, for the sake of transparency, you will soon see warning posters all over the Underground.