Alistair Goodall

Alistair Goodall

Last updated on 21 November 2018

Alistair Goodall is Head of IT for Crossrail Ltd and Transport for London

Crossrail is an amazing project to be part of and, when the central section opens next year, visitors to London are going to see stunning new stations and travel on new 200 metre long trains capable of carrying up to 1,500 people.

My team in IT has been responsible for most of the enterprise wide applications which are needed on a mega-project.  Some of these we have worked with the vendors over the last 10 years to develop and configure, others have been developed in house by our team to support specific business needs (such as vehicle movement planning and agreements).  These applications now hold over 10 years of project data across all business areas including health and safety, commercial, delivery, programme controls and technical information.

One of the big innovations with Crossrail has been the adoption of BIM ( ) which has allowed the integration and linking of information from over 25 main design contracts, 30 advanced work contracts and other supporting contracts.  This information linking takes place both within applications and across them which means that when it comes to archiving we had to think about the whole suite of applications and maintain their relationships.

So how do you archive 25+ applications and unstructured data for the lowest cost and make it accessible to future teams with no detailed understanding of the current business processes and applications?

We started with the end point and chose online shopping (Amazon) as our model.  With Amazon having over 500 million products accessible through a single search box and facets/filters the online shopping experience is the complete opposite of our business applications where you need expertise and patience to navigate through the various screens!

Having arrived at a very simple answer we then knew that we had to convert our information into a fully searchable set of business transactions which could be searched, filtered and faceted by any user with experience of online shopping.  At this point the team had to learn some new skills and enter the wonderful world of NoSQL, cloud storage, search services and zero infrastructure architecture (With some online map services thrown in for good measure).

As all of this is happening the Crossrail project has been in the news with the central section opening delayed to 2019 to ensure that there is sufficient testing.  The good news from us is that we have built the archive components within the cloud and as our applications are closed down we are able to convert them to searchable JSON objects (NoSQL) within our COSMOS database and so can cope with a phased winding down of the project.

By the end of 2019 there will be an amazing new railway running through central London and our amazing new archive will hold the context and data from this mega-project.

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