London Underground Develops Its Own Internet Of Things To Increase Efficiency

Network-enabled sensors could make subways 30% cheaper to run.

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to leave its mark in various industries around the world, which will soon include one of the world’s oldest public transportation systems. Transport for London (TFL), the organization that runs the London Underground, has been busy fitting the subway system with network-enabled sensors that should make it cheaper to maintain the tunnels, and also improve customer service.

TFL has been working alongside Telent and CGI to install sensors in the CCTV systems, escalators, PA loudspeakers, air conditioning systems, and subway tunnels. Powered by Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Services, the new network aims to make it easier to manage, monitor, and automate individual tasks.

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Microsoft’s Barb Edson explained in a blog post that the data would be used to “closely monitor temperature, vibration, humidity, fault warnings and system alerts,” all of which are “available in one central location to provide access to needed information on mobile apps, via a Web browser or through text alerts.”

It’s expected that the new system will make it 30% cheaper for the TFL to run the London Underground, while also improving customer service. This would be achieved through better infrastructure planning, automated processes, and the detection of faults before they have a chance to affect rail services.

Telent’s Steve Pears explains in a promotional video for the project that the company “wanted to help rail systems like the London Underground modernize the systems that monitor it’s critical assets–everything from escalators to lifts to HVAC control systems to CCTV and communication networks.”



Microsoft is also convinced this kind of interconnected network has applications that go beyond transportation.

Our work with telent, CGI and the London Underground is only one example of the tremendous potential we see for the Intelligent Systems Service in transportation, utilities and other “smart city” scenarios. I’m also equally excited by opportunities in manufacturing, health, retail and other industries; we’re actively working with partners such as Cognizant and Infosys to realize those opportunities.

As more and more devices are connected to the IoT, it seems almost inevitable that we will soon be surrounded by sensors of all shapes and sizes. If the London Underground’s experiments prove successful, it probably won’t be long before other subway systems get hooked up to the IoT as well.

Telent // CGI
[h/t] FastCoLabs

Images by Chris Chabot, Doug Wheller

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