Businesses can now access NSW Opal travel data

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Businesses can now access NSW Opal travel data

How public transport data can take guess work out of business planning for retailers and other organisations.

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has published anonymised data drawn from its Opal ticketing system, giving businesses insights into the way people use public transport.

The data can be used be used for a variety of purposes, including business planning. For example, it could be used is to help determine what times businesses should be open, and how many staff may be needed at different times, according to TfNSW customer services division deputy secretary Tony Braxton-Smith.

“Let's say someone plans to open a business near a train station and wants to establish the best times to be ready to serve customers from this source,” Braxton-Smith said. “What was once an anecdotal, trial-and-error process can now be backed up by hard data, which could help them succeed in their business.”

An example of how the data can be used this way has been prepared by University of Technology Sydney senior researcher Mathew Hounsell.

Opal sample data (source: Mathew Hounsell, UTS).

Other uses include better planning of works in the vicinity of stations by local councils, government authorities and service providers.

“The dataset has been developed in partnership with Data61 (part of CSIRO and Australia's leading digital research network). It has been de-identified and processed in a way that protects the privacy of individual customers and has multiple levels of security to prevent misuse," Braxton-Smith assured passengers.

Other organisations including the University of Technology Sydney and the Data Analytics Centre were consulted to help ensure that the data would be useful without breaching privacy expectations.

“Opal data has long been one of our most requested and most useful datasets. Now it's available, it means researchers and developers can access and use the data like never before to innovate and gain insights for a huge variety of benefits for customers and organisations,” he said.

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