Uber previously released to certain municipalities a veritable treasure trove of data to help city governments and city planners improve traffic conditions and commutes. After that initial debut, which was exclusive to urban planners, Uber has now officially set Uber Movement live for the general public.
While the data has technically been available since Uber first launched in 2009, aggregating all this information has been no small feat. For the last year or so, a team of about 10 engineers has devoted itself to putting together information on three major cities — Manila, Philippines, Sydney, Australia, and Washington, DC. Dozens more cities are expected to be added to Movement before the site is made publicly available in February. When it’s complete, Movement will contain data for every city in which Uber is active, beginning in early 2016.
“We don’t manage streets. We don’t plan infrastructure,” said Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s chief of transportation policy. “So why have this stuff bottled up when it can provide immense value to the cities we’re working in?” Noting that the company is collecting a “constant stream of data,” Salzberg added, “Some of this data is treated as digital exhaust, when in fact it’s immensely valuable.”
Uber isn’t the only company to be sharing what it knows with governments. Waze has a “Connected Citizens” program that provides city officials with data they need in exchange for early notice of construction and road closures to add to its maps. And Strava, the cycling app, lets cities know where residents like to bike.
But when it comes to certain valuable information, it’s unclear just how much Uber, or any of these companies, are willing to divulge at this point.
“I think cities need to be very clear about what they want,” Gabe Klein, a former head of the Detroit Department of Transportation, told the Washington Post.
Update: Uber Movement has now been made available to the public in some cities.
- Uber will no longer store exact pickup and drop-off locations in drivers’ apps
- What’s Uber up to? New choices point to local transportation takeover
- Google’s Waymo vs. Uber: Everything you need to know
- Selfless move? Uber may be selling its self-driving technology to Toyota
- Uber is stepping up its game on passenger safety features