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Keeping London moving with mobile

Transport for London

Row of bicycles for rent with red double-decker bus in the background on a street of London, UK

Transport for London (TfL) is at the epicentre of life in the capital.

  • Category: Transport Mobile and Web Development

Every single day, we make over 24 million journeys across London. A staggering 1.34 billion of us rely on the city’s iconic trains, buses, black cabs, and even its Boris Bikes (or should we say Santander Cycles?) to get to our destinations.

This enormously complex network is looked after by a 30,000-strong team, spread over hundreds of locations across the city. The demand for enterprise mobility at TfL is being driven by the very teams working every day to keep London moving. This is driven by anything from straightforward productivity gains and better communications; to the availability of real-time information on the move and remote control of physical assets.

People over processes

In 2014, Kin + Carta Create and TfL joined forces to begin the process of bringing smart mobile services and leaner ways of working to TfL in one of the largest mobile transformation programmes in the UK.

Kicking off with a period of in-depth field research and extensive usability testing of existing tools with TfL staff across every level of the organisation, we first created a series of detailed user experience maps. These, combined with multiple user personas, highlighted the daily pain points encountered by staff and helped identify and prioritise clear opportunities for mobile.

Armed with this insight, our first project was to apply rapid prototyping techniques to develop a comprehensive User Standards Framework. This incorporates well-established industry practices, from Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) and iOS and Google Materials design standards, to bespoke requirements that reflect the unique needs of TfL staff.

The result is a collaborative set of standards and reusable components that dramatically accelerate design decisions. It is the essential toolkit for all development - past, present and future - in the Mobile Programme, cutting programme level design overheads by an estimated 20%.

Embedding greater agility

Teams from both Kin + Carta Create and TfL have worked side-by-side from the very beginning, co-locating and working in partnership across a range of lightweight discovery phases and full product deliveries.

This has enabled us to rapidly pilot mobile experiences, gathering insights with short feedback loops and regular weekly workshops, so that we can continually optimise both products and processes. Collectively, this has led not only to faster, leaner progress, but it has also proactively empowered TfL’s in-house teams with direct, hands-on experience of Agile in action.

An example of this continuous improvement can be seen in the creation of a pipeline evaluation framework. This enables teams to rapidly assess the ROI of any potential services and solutions. A highly effective approach, it minimises waste by requiring teams to thoroughly interrogate the potential value and feasibility of any proposed products, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds on wasteful construction phases that would ultimately have generated only a low ROI.

We’re excited to be creating the beginnings of a pipeline - and a way of prioritising the ideas in it - that will give us greater visibility of where we should be focusing our efforts. We’ll be able to support the business more proactively - with faster, more efficient and more valuable solution production.

Nick Hawker - Business Solutions Manager, Transport for London

A fIt-for-purpose platform

In an organisation as complex as TfL, mobile integration with legacy systems is both inevitable and mission critical. Consequently, in conjunction with the User Standards Framework, another fundamental keystone project has been the design and development of a Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) platform, which serves all current and future mobile tools at TfL.

This platform consists of a set of reusable patterns and services that dramatically streamline access to existing data and systems, providing the foundation for accelerated and mobile-optimised delivery. In turn, this facilitates a fast, seamless experience for TfL staff, and without which, enterprise mobility would prove slow, fragmented and in some instances - impossible.

For TfL, every journey matters - and we couldn’t agree more. Built on the strong foundations of the UX Framework and the MBaaS platform, the Mobile Programme continues to go from strength-to-strength with nineteen Discoveries and nine Construction phases completed so far. To learn more about individual projects, take a closer look at Decelerator - a highly innovative solution to brake testing on London Underground trains, and a global first for iPad.

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