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Information systems strategy employed by the transport for London in preparation for the summer 2012 Olympics

| March 24, 2015

The London summer Olympics which is billed to start from the 27 of July to 12 August 2012 is one of the world’s major events which will attract over 10,500 athletes and about 5.3 million visitors from outside the United Kingdom in addition to local visitors, press, workers broadcasters and officials.03_001

Given the projected number of visitors and their potential implication for crowding London’s infrastructure and transport, several measures are being taken by authorities to mitigate the adverse implication of the deluge of visitors to London and its environs. The transport for London is particularly one of the authorities taking huge measures to reduce the impact of visitor’s traffic on London’s transport. In this regard the tfl has taken specific measures by adopting several information systems strategy to minimise the possible disruptions caused by visitors to London transport and the general public, the aim of this paper is to identify and evaluate some of the information systems strategies been employed.

Findings and Analysis

The chief executive of Network rail, David Higgins recently note in his remark that given the huge number of people coming to London for the summer games, it is inevitable that there will be heavy disruptions to London’s transport. Contrary to David’s opinion, the Mayor of London in a BBC interview rejects the claims describing as “utter nonsense”, the notion that London transport will witness gridlock and disruption during the summer. In a counter response, David Higgins who claims to have been previously involved in four big previous games including Olympics asserts that: “During the Games bad things will happen: He said typical of big games, “there is going to be track circuit failure, overhead line breakages, there will be cable theft. Probably there will be suicides – there always are over a 60-day period, that’s just going to happen unfortunately.” (BBC, 6 February, 2012). The Tfl also warns that of the 700 bus routes in London, access to over 83 routes will be altered because of road closures in around the event venues. From July the 27th to 10th of September, the tfl also suggests that terminals will change as many buses will stop moving temporarily. According to the tfl; “on the specific days of the cycle road races on July 26, 28 and 29th, bus 69 routes which travels around Stratford will be cut short or suspended completely” ( To cope with the potential disruption that may be caused to the transport system in general, the TFL projects that there will have to be over 30% decrease in the number of commuters to avoid disruptions as there will be an additional 1 million journey during the Olympics with an added 3.3 million journeys at the peak of the games. While there has been vast improvements to the city’s transport in terms of carriage addition to the DLR, the East London line carriage expansion and improvements to London bus and water transport as well as expansion of many stations such as Stratford, it is still projected that the current transport infrastructure in London has almost reached its capacity, therefore unless there are other innovative strategies adopted towards mitigating its impact, there will likely be huge disruptions in the city’s transport system during the game.


Given that the failure of transportation could invariably mean the failure of the 2012 games, several measures have been put in place by the transport for London to mitigate the impact of possible disruptions to London transport for the benefit of the general public and London’s visitors. Information systems’ is one of the measures being adopted by the tfl to address many possible public transport disruptions.

The tfl claims that information systems is helping it to plan ahead of the games and will be crucial to addressing many possible disruptions. Amongst the IS strategies of the tfl is the creation of London interactive maps which would help commuters to plan their journeys and find their ways in and around the city during the games. The map is said will enable people to plan their journeys by showing the status of every lines and alternative routes to problem lines, the map will also show milestones, calendars and dates when the most disruptions are likely to be expected. The map will also contain useful tips and other information which will help businesses in particular to plan their employee travelling routes effectively during the games. The interactive map which will be available on a specially created website ( according to the tfl will also give people information about access to the routes of Olympic and Paralympics events, cycle parking at different venues, new station waiting times, recommended stations for each venue and any traffic management and parking near the events. Unlike before, the tfl has also concluded plans to allow commuters to access wifi in many tube stations and underground so as to enable people to communicate in order to get their ways around the city during the Olympics. The tfl asserts that with better connectivity to the internet through phones and tablets, commuters will be able to access the tfl live journey planner to plan their journeys more effectively. In addition to the IS strategies adopted, the tfl also plans to track people from the use of their mobiles to enable the tracking of crowds and determine the specific places they are during the games so as to make effective planning and deploy resources where needed efficiently. CCTV footage and data gathered from traffic stewards are also some of the IS strategies been employed by the tfl. To minimise the disruptions on London roads during the games, Mark Evers, the director of Games at the tfl says that “the tfl will also be using the (Scoots) ‘sophisticated computerised system, Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique’ to monitor traffic control system. Scoots he says support the monitoring of the number of cars passing the loops in the road, so as to manually intervene in congested areas,” In addition to the information systems strategies above, the Tfl is also integrating its internal IT systems to help enhance response and efficiency of London transport. Amongst the internal IS strategy is its expansion of a temporal call centre where people can call during the Olympics to ask for information and advice from the transport for London about their travel and possible alternative roots.


While several measures pertaining to information systems and others are being taken to minimise the potential disruption to London transport system during the games as explained above, such measures will go a long way in helping to achieve success during the games, however, the systems in their present state are not adequate to address the potential disruptions that may affect the transport system, this is particularly so because there is less effort by the tfl information systems management aimed at informing Londoners of the usability of the IS features. While information is indeed available on the transport for London website about the various information systems being put in place and some of the expected routes of disruption, the tfl has done significantly less to educate people on the existence of the various systems put in place and how such systems can be used to plan journeys and mitigate the impact of the Olympic traffic on individual travelling. When people are not aware the third function of information systems according to (Chou, 2009) disseminating useful information for consumers cannot be achieved. For instance, through the large consumer data collected by the tfl from oyster cards and those which can be possibly collected from other government departments, direct information could be sent out to Londoners regarding how the games will affect them and the types of information systems put in place to support their travelling in and around, this would make the use of information systems put in place more acceptable, usable, understandable and effective. It would give people sufficient information before hand and will possibly help towards effective travelling for over 5 million Londoners who will commute to and from within the venue of the games and has no sufficient information at hand. While the tfl would claim that all the needed information is available online, it is important to state that a meagre percent of commuters visit the tfl to find information to plan their journeys, as a result therefore achieving success in the adopted IS system should involve sound and adequate information dissertation system to the potential users.


This paper has looked at the various information systems strategy employed by the transport for London in preparation for the summer 2012 Olympics. The paper has shown the different IS strategies employed the rationale behind such systems and the possibility of addressing the main problems through the designed systems. While indeed, the Tfl has made huge efforts towards making the games successful by integrating IT systems towards planning, more efforts could be made to inform Londoners on the availability of IS systems and their uses towards helping them to move around effectively during the games.

Chou, D, (2009). Research Trends in Information Systems and Change Management, Department of Computer Information System, USA

BBC (6 February 2012) London 2012: Olympics travel disruption ‘inevitable, Available at:, Accessed: 14th June, 2012.

Evers, M, (18 Apr, 2012). Olympics 100 days to go: TFL may monitor mobile phone movements during London 2012,
The, Travel advice for businesses, Available at:

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