Please stop wasting my time and money and just send me the data

Web developer Adrian Short made a Freedom of Information request to Transport for London for journey data from the London Cycle Hire scheme on 8th October. In January TFL released data to some developers. Yet to date TFL have not complied with the FOI request and Adrian Short is one developer who is not able to make use of the data.

Adrian Short is a supporter of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. He created a free API service for live data, which helped developers produce the rich choice of cycle hire apps Londoners enjoy. His motive? “I’m keen to do what I can to help people use it and to make it work better.”

TfL’s information doesn’t want to be free


What happened

08.10.2010 Adrian made an FOI request for records of the first million Barclays Cycle Hire journeys as a CSV file.

05.11.2010 TFL send the first 100 journeys as  an email attachment and say the full million will be available from their website

04.12.2010 London Open Data Hack day passes without the TFL data

27.12.2010 Adrian requests internal review by TFL of their handing of his FOI request

05.01.2011 TFL make the data available from their developer area, which requires registration and agreeing to TFL terms and conditions

TFL: “I note your preference to be sent this data directly without having to register. This will be considered as part of the internal review, which should take place next week”

Adrian: “ Please stop wasting my time and money and just send me the data.”

What Do They Know FOI documents


Million journey zip file

The data is now available to developers who accept TFL’s terms. Developers have been able to produce visualisations, for example these by Suprageography and Steerdavies

You could also download the million  journey zip file from a link in this Guardian article Guardian Data Blog, but you would have no legal basis for distributing a service which used the data.


The Licence: some highlights

2.1.2 only use the Transport Data in accordance with these Terms and Conditions and the Syndication Developer Guidelines, and not use such information in any way that causes detriment to TfL or brings TfL into disrepute.

2.1.3 You shall not make the Transport Data feeds available to any third parties, save with TfL’s prior written consent

2.1.7 only display the Transport Data for the intended use as approved in the registration form

4.4 TfL may change, suspend or discontinue all or any aspect of the Service or Transport Data, including its availability, at any time, and may suspend or terminate Your use of the Service at any time and for any reason

TFL terms & conditions


Whose data?

The TFL licence is completely at odds with government open data directives, the policies of the Greater London Authority Datastore, of which TFL is a member, and guidance from the GLA Data Committee:

“Robust requirements in all contracts to include ‘allow for free commercial re-use of public data’. This is included in the Data Charter for London.”



1. FOI compliance.

In making the data available, but subject to a restrictive licence which negates your rights under the Freedom of Information Act, TFL are clearly in breach of the Information Commissioner’s guidelines. The offer to enter into a developer contract with TFL is not a response to an FOI request. Is it possible that an Information Governance Adviser in the Information Access & Compliance Team is unaware of  this?

2. Commercial development using Public Sector Information

The terms of the licence are so onerous for developers that it is difficult to see how significant commercial investment in TFL data can take place. Visualisations and weekend apps, yes, but try raising investment for a service where your use of data may be suspended or terminated at any time for any reason.

3. Is it the policy of TFL to delay compliance with this FOI request to encourage developers to sign up for their T&Cs? Whilst that may look like a strategy from inside the bunker it can only serve to undermine innovation in services using transport data.


Also posted at the Help Me Investigate blog


Open data: Challenges and opportunities

I am co-producing an open data event on 15th July  with West Midlands Regional Observatory.

Open data: Challenges and opportunities

15th July 2010, 9:30am – 4:00pm

The Balcony Rooms, RegenWM, 4th Floor, Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham, B4 7XG

A programme of speakers who are opening up public sector information.

A chance for policy makers and web developers to talk about why and how to implement open data.

Policy: What principles should organisations apply in making public sector data available? Implementation: What formats should public bodies use to publish to the web?

The event is free to attend. More details and booking West Midlands Regional Observatory



Richard Wilson – Event Chair

West Midlands Quality Institute


Open data: Challenges and opportunities

Since holding posts at Cabinet Office within Strategy & Policy and the Information Taskforce, as well as working as a Policy Adviser at 10 Downing Street, Will Perrin has founded Talk About Local, a project to give people in their communities a powerful online voice. In this session, Will will give an overview on open data national policy, looking at recent developments along with the challenges and opportunities.

Will Perrin

Creator of Talk About Local


Opening up Ordnance Survey data

Gillian will detail how Ordnance Survey have responded to the call for open public data. Following changes on the use of OS derived data, she will give us a run through recent licensing changes to explain the legal guidelines of what OS data can and can’t be used for.

Gillian Horner

Ordnance Survey



A local perspective on opening up data

Chris Taggart runs Openly local, a website geared at making local government more transparent. Chris will pick up where Will left off, looking at how national policy translates to local government, as well as giving an overview of the OpenlyLocal website.

Chris Taggart

Openly local


Democratic engagement

Tim Davies is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience of youth participation and social media. He is studying  the impact of open data on democratic engagement at Oxford Internet Institute. Read an interview with Tim and further biography.

Tim Davies

Practical participation



Issues, examples and themes

Andrew Mackenzie co-produced this event with the Observatory. He is a researcher and consultant working at the intersection of policy, technology and innovation. He recently organised Mapitude, an event which explored open data and mapping.


Andrew Mackenzie



Opening Warwickshire’s data

Examples from Warwickshire showing how they are opening up Warwickshire County Council held data and why. Aside from the social benefits, Kate will also identify the potential cost savings and opportunities for service improvement resulting from opening up council data. See Hack Warwickshire competition.

Kate Sahota

Warwickshire County Council


Opening Walsall’s data

Dan will bring open data examples from Walsall, including the challenge of the £500 spending transparency requirement (where local government have to publish details of all spend over £500), as well as the 2010 election from Walsall’s perspective and whether or not to use Open source website platforms.

Dan Slee

Walsall Council


Opening Birmingham’s data

Recent and future open data examples from Digital Birmingham, the city’s strategic partnership helping to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are available to all in the city.

Simon Whitehouse

Digital Birmingham


Opening Lichfield’s data

Stuart Harrison is webmaster at Lichfield District Council.

His pioneering work has established Lichfield as one of the leading exemplars of local open data. Lichfield council make it easy to access council services, report problems, view planning applications, find out what’s going on locally, have a say on local issues, and much more. Read Guardian article on Lichfield and Stuart

Stuart Harrison

Lichfield District Council




Mappers meet developers meet open data

It’s Mapitude time


Mapitude draft programme

Saturday May 22nd

Coffee, set up, feature requests

from 09:30 to 10:00


Upstairs Hackspace projects

from 10:00 to 17:00


Session 1 Better mapping

Using and adding photographs Brian Prangle

Adding a map to your website or blog Simon Dann & others

Beginner’s tool set: editors, iPhone apps

from 10:00 to 11:00



from 11:00 to 11:15


Session 2 OSM state of the map

Open data, Ordnance Survey. Local data. Warwickshire competition. Where next?

Output to Google maps vs OSM, some notes Simon Dann

Tools for conviviality

from 11:15 to 12:00


Session 3 Advanced mapping

Creating custom map styles

Cyclestreets Shaun Macdonald

Hosting your own OSM installation, Mappa Mercia Q & A Christoph Boehme

from 12:00 to 13:00



from 13:00 to 14:00


Session 4 Maps on mobiles

OpenSatNav & augmented reality maps on mobile phones Steve Brown

Track My Journey Shaun Macdonald

from 14:00 to 14:45


Session 5 Adding data, public sector information

UK-postcodes, Lichfield DC Stuart Harrison

OpenlyLocal Chris Taggart

from 14:45 to 15:30



from 15:30 to 16:00


Session 6


from 16:00 to 16:30



Show new stuff

from 16:30 to 17:30


Open data, linked data news


Open Data, Linked Data & The Semantic Web explained: ReadWriteWeb


Nigel Shadbolt: slides on the work can be found here #www2010


World Bank Open Data initiative TBL says “Everybody’s doing it!”


UK government guidlines

Office of Public Sector Information regulations: public sector information re-use


Local government

What data sets are local public bodies already releasing for re-use? Local public data panel


Warwickshire’s data is opening up announcement


Guest post about new #Warwickshire #opendata site: WM Regional Observatory


Warwickshire have 26 different open data sets and feeds available at


General Election



The Great British Economy Disaster by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books



Election diagram: deficit cuts compared by party  Datablog Information is Beautiful


5 Great Mapping Apps to Help You Track the UK General Election Resourceshelf



Vote Match is designed to help you with determining your voting preference for the UK General Election. Votematch

Find out about your MP


Election day

Tactical voting guide  based on latest Guardian /ICM poll. Find your constituency, work out where your vote can be most effective. Voting guide



Public transport layers on German open street map

Also covers UK, scroll.


PDF maps from #OSM: make your own TownGuide


Discussion on local data and open database license as used by Mappa-Mercia


Open Layers: free maps for the web V 2.9


Mapitude Birmingham #OSM workshop.

OpenStreetMap for web developers workshop day May 22nd Birmingham. Details, booking

Tickets sold out 30th April



cd-roms and ipads – analysis of publishing as a workflow and why iPad will not save glossy magazines.

“For those of you blessed with senile amnesia or youth, CD-ROMs were the first wave of “interactive media” in the mid-eighties, and the great hope for publishing houses struggling to understand what they might be doing in the 21st century. Companies from Dorling-Kindersley to News Corp threw millions into CD-ROM publishing, with very little ultimate return.”


Ian Betteridge: notes for a talk on designing for the iPad Technovia

Frederic Filloux on design, newspapers, iPad

“The fundamental fracture between print and digital media lies exactly here: paper is a fantastic vector for a reading experience driven by curiosity; the web is a cold medium utterly efficient for a search-based, focus-driven reading.
How to reconcile the two? There is no single (nor simple) answer. Such solution will arise from a combination of User Interface evolution with a real ability to deal with new devices, and with better search implementation.”

Monday Note

iPad DJ video YouTube

Rebirth by Propellerheads is out for the iPhone iPad next?

Teaching, but not as we know it