Big Data

Uber Movement gives urban planners access to data from 2 billion trips

In an effort to make city planning more efficient, Uber is opening up its data to urban planners through a new website called Movement.

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Image: Uber

Ride-hailing giant Uber recently launched a new website called Uber Movement, offering third-party access to anonymized data from more than 2 billion trips taken through the service. The goal is for the data to be used to improve urban planning and development.

Currently, Uber operates in roughly 450 cities. According to a press release announcing Movement, the company has been looking at ways of making these cities "cleaner, more efficient and less crowded."

As Uber executives took on that goal, they found that city leaders were also looking to shorten commute times, and try to figure out how best to invest in their infrastructure, the release said. A video created to showcase the product said that Uber Movement was "designed in partnership with urban planners and transportation professionals, and provides powerful tools to analyze traffic changes over time."

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The GPS data made available by Uber can be used to look at different travel conditions by the day of the week in a given city, or by the time of day on a specific day. Heavy traffic months and the impact of events and disruptions can also be measured, the release said.

"This data is anonymized and aggregated into the same types of geographic zones that transportation planners use to evaluate which parts of cities need expanded infrastructure, like Census Tracts and Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs)," the release stated.

The website will soon be made available to the public, and Uber is also planning on working with planning agencies and researchers in the future to take a look at certain travel times. However, this is only one aspect of urban planning, and Uber said it hopes to help tackle more issues as time goes on, the release said.

Uber has already started working with early partners on Movement, including the mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser.

"We want to employ as many data sources as possible to mitigate traffic congestion, improve infrastructure, and make our streets safer for every visitor and resident in the nation's capital," Bowser said in the release.

The launch of movement is interesting, given Uber's 2016 move to serve the data of 13 million users to US regulators. Despite the data being anonymized, Movement could be seen as a privacy violation by some potential customers.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Uber launched Movement, a new website that makes 2 billion rides worth of data available to third parties.
  2. The goal is for Uber data in Movement to be used to improve urban planning and development, and to show city leaders what infrastructure to invest in.
  3. Uber Movement is working with early partners now, but will open up the site to other users in the future.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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