TfL takes part in open data app challenge

London Tube sign

Transport for London (TfL) is giving students the chance to use its open data to create mobile phone apps that tackle common community issues.

The organisation has teamed up with open source education provider Apps for Good to develop the programme, which is geared towards young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented communities within London.

Iris Lapinski, chief executive of Apps for Good, said teaming up with TfL will allow students to gain technical experience in a regulated environment.

"The partnership with TfL will help ensure students create apps that are not only original and creative, but also fully take into account data protection and privacy issues," said Lapinski.

"Integrating these lessons learnt into our courses will significantly improve our work, and the direct feedback and placement opportunities for our students and alumni will create amazing opportunities for them."

Participants will team up with other students to produce applications for mobile phone and social media platforms and - in turn - bolster their technology knowledge and skills.

As well as supplying participants with its open data, TfL said it plans to provide work placements and mentoring opportunities to those that take part, as well as regular feedback on their efforts.

The company said it will also work with Apps for Good to develop case studies on the correct use of open data.

News of the project follows on from an Apps for Good pilot last year that resulted in the creation of an app called Oyster on the Go by two West London-based 14-year-old students. The app allowed Oyster card users to keep track of their balances while on the move.

Chris Macleod, marketing director for TfL, said the project will help it find new ways to make use of its open data.

"The partnership with Apps for Good will ensure young Londoners fully understand the implications of creating third-party apps and will give young people a first-hand understanding of the technology that keeps Londoners moving," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.