Mind the (data) gap

Londoners were all a-twitter this week when a “software bug” apparently caused the London Underground API to tell all the apps that use its live transport data that every Tube line in the capital had been shut down.

Trade union leaders could hardly have hoped for such an impact as commuters checking the status of trains found there were none. Just think of the ballot costs the RMT could save by hacking the API instead.

Londoners took to Twitter – where else – to vent their rage, much as they do every day when venting their rage about the Tube actually running.

But Murphy’s Law tells us that one day Twitter will crash at the same time as the Transport for London data feed, at which point expect the nation’s capital to be full of dumbstruck commuters, frozen to the spot staring at their smartphones unable to comprehend the gravity of the crisis nor how to react.

Much as philosophers have pondered whether a tree falling in a wood only makes a noise if someone is there to hear it, expect much rumination on whether the Tube only runs if your transport app says it does.

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