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Uber offers access to its traffic data through new Movement website

Uber, the ride-sharing technology company, has launched a new website, Movement, which contains analysis and travel time data that it is offering to city authorities and urban planners.

Uber is offering access to anonymized data from over two billion trips that it has provided during its six and a half years of operation. The Movement website will offer access to traffic data that has been gathered in the more than 450 cities worldwide where Uber operates, with the detailed information intended for use by city officials, planners, and research organizations, looking into ways to improve urban mobility. Since Uber’s ride-share services are available 24/7, it can compare travel conditions across different times of day, days of the week, or months of the year. The data can also reveal how travel times are impacted by major events, road closures, or other things happening in a city. This data is aggregated into the same types of geographic zones that transportation planners use to evaluate which parts of cities need expanded infrastructure, such as Census Tracts and Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs).

Initially, the website is only accessible to specifically approved parties, such as city officials and planners, but Uber intends to open access to the general public within the next couple of months. Four cities are currently integrated into the system – Manila (Philippines), Sydney (Australia), and Washington DC and Boston (both USA) – but more will be added in the near future. Users can adjust a variety of parameters, such as time of day, day of the week, and different zones to access trip data for that specific point or range, and can download the data, both with existing time series charts, and in raw format for inputting into their own computer models. Uber says it is also looking at releasing access to the data as an API (application programming interface).

Uber envisions the information will enable local governments to gain a better understanding of where and how improvements to road networks can be made. Uber says it wants to do some good in the cities where it operates, but the company and its users also stand to benefit from any infrastructure and mobility improvements in cities. More efficient transportation will generally mean a more efficient Uber service delivery, happier customers, and better usage rates. The data offering could also help engender closer relationships between Uber and the municipal governments in cities where it operates, which will be helpful as its business model matures.

“The travel time data Uber has made available provides a tangible and unique measure of how our cities move at different times of the day, and gives us insights into how the road network is performing,” commented Michael Comninos, executive director of the Greater Sydney Commission, an early partner in the scheme.

“Uber’s new public travel time tool, Movement, will be accessible through our Greater Sydney Dashboard and will play a valuable role in helping city, infrastructure and transport planners better understand how Sydney moves at any one time of the day.”

To see a video about Uber Movements, click here.

January 11, 2017

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