Transport for Greater Manchester TfGM
February 10, 2020
for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is using Snowflake’s cloud-built data
platform to harness and analyse crucial mobility data. Migrating to
Snowflake has allowed TfGM the freedom to ingest data, extract insights
and gain value to support its business operations. This transition has
given its users a more seamless experience when travelling around
Transport for Greater Manchester is the local government body
responsible for delivering Greater Manchester’s transport strategy and
commitments. It is responsible for improving transport services and
facilities in Greater Manchester and ensuring easy, efficient travel for
customers. TfGM works with bus, tram and train operators and oversees
some of Manchester’s busiest roads by managing a 360 mile ‘Key Route
Network’. Data and technology are at the heart of the organisation and
enables the continual improvement of travel options and services for
people in Greater Manchester.
Ensuring Greater Manchester’s transport services run smoothly is a
massive task, as more than 5.6 million journeys are made across the
region’s transport network each day. Every individual journey
contributes to the huge volumes of data made available to TfGM. Its
greatest challenge has been capturing this information and analysing it
to gain crucial insights. Since migrating to Snowflake in July 2019,
TfGM has been able to focus on getting business value from data rather
than worrying about data infrastructure, storage or performance.
Business operations can now focus on extracting insights from data and
improving the transport network for people in Greater Manchester.
Snowflake provides TfGM with a data platform model that enables
flexibility and scalability. TfGM now runs micro simulations of
transport networks and extracts travel patterns from its datasets. This
enables TfGM to pinpoint the amount of people entering and exiting
certain stations during busy events, including Premier League football
matches and big music concerts. Identifying exactly where people are
coming from on such big occasions means additional trams and staff can
be made available in the right place at the right time.
In July 2019, Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network, the largest light
rail network in the UK, joined New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and
Singapore as a major city with an “intelligent” contactless system that
eliminates the need for paper tickets or having to download an app. The
initiative introduced a quick, easy touch-in and touch-out function at
tram stops and included a contactless system that delivers customers the
cheapest fares for their journeys.
After introducing the contactless service, TfGM needed the ability to
use network data in order to understand and make improvements to the
network, services and products provided to customers. Information such
as anonymised data is useful for understanding what is happening across
the network, and helps TfGM respond to incidents in real-time in
addition to informing long term improvements to services and products.
Utilising Snowflake has led to new insights into travel patterns and
behaviours for TfGM to adapt the network and add improvements to
ensure a successful and reliable data platform, TfGM enlisted the
expertise of data warehouse & public cloud specialists Crimson Macaw to
improve its wider technology stack. As well as Snowflake, TfGM adopted
AWS using AWS Lambda functions, Matillion ETL and Tableau online.
Crimson were able to bootstrap a full production, test and development
environment in weeks allowing TfGM to attach data feeds, transform the
data and create reports.
Malcolm Lowe, Head of IT at Transport for Greater Manchester said, “We
have lots of data and information on the transport network and the
challenge is capturing all this information, the dependencies and
getting insight from it. Snowflake allows us to meet these challenges
and focus on business value. When we don’t have to worry about
technology, infrastructure, storage or performance, it means we can
concentrate and focus on getting insight to improve the transport
network and travel of people in Greater Manchester.”