Interview with Roland Major, Enterprise Architect, TfL

This blog post is part of the Big Data Week Speaker interviews series.  Roland shares his thoughts about the impact of big data in the public transport field, also offering a sneak peek into his talk at the “Big Data in Use” Conference.

  1. Why is it important for businesses in your industry to be more data driven nowadays?

The intensity of movement in London is expanding over time and TfL has to identify anomalies and react to them at ever increasing velocity, reducing reaction times in order to minimise the impact of disruption across transport modes. This ensures an optimization of services, increasing security and trustworthiness of our organisation, these being cornerstones of success in any business, as a matter of fact.

  1. What are the main challenges a company encounters when trying to leverage their data?

The greatest challenges at present are adapting our skills and unpicking a traditional mindset to a new, all-encompassing data use and management. These can only be overcome at a rate that the operations teams can support and, therefore, it takes time as with any business change.

  1. How do you see the impact of big data in the travel and transportation field?

Improved understanding of data allows TfL to offer the possibility of a better-informed choice to our customers, as well as a significantly improved management of our services with minimised disruption to the traveling public in a complex, multi-modal environment.

  1. What do you foresee as being the growing big data challenge you will face in your role over the coming 3 years and how are you preparing to face it?

As the platform foundations are completed, the expectations for results increase. This is a question of how to blend our skills and knowledge with a more dynamic environment, to maintain a pace of change as well as continuous improvements, which result in better services to our customers as well as the optimization of our infrastructure.

  1. Can you give us a sneak peek into your talk at the “Big Data in Use” Conference | Big Data Week London 2016?

TfL probably offers a unique case study opportunity, given the diversity of information the organization encompasses in London’s Transport infrastructure. The presentation will cover the architecture we have adopted and some of the challenges we have faced to gain acceptance of these new ways of working. Moving to the cloud has opened up the value of our information while maintaining the required levels of security and the presentation provides insight upon how this is achieved.

  1. Who do you think should attend your talk at Big Data Week? Why?

Any fellow public transport company representative from another city is welcome to share our experience, as well as all data operators who will find our insight into the use of the cloud highly useful, upscaling and applicable to their own resources. Also, any client of TfL should join the presentation, to see how we put their interest at heart, making safety and efficiency our top priorities in a city ever growing and faster-moving.


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