Uber has launched a new website that will give you a peek into the pool of traffic data that allows the ride-hailing service to get you at your destination in time.
Uber Movement shows data for four cities - the Washington metro area, Boston, Manila and Sydney - with dozens more to be added soon, Andrew Salzberg, Uber's head of transportation policy, said in an interview with reporters at the company's San Francisco headquarters. Because of its 24/7, 365 days nature of operation, it can compare traffic conditions across different times of the day, days of the week, or months of the year and even how big events, road closures and other things affect travel times. It is aggregated and presented in 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.
The move from Uber could help to relieve some of the pressure on it from city authorities such as NY, which proposed a new rule that would force Uber, and other ride-hailing companies, to share data regarding pick-up and drop-off locations for every trip.
But Uber is getting around privacy concerns in Movement by anonymizing the data, meaning that it takes the Global Positioning System information collected for each trip and divides it into geographic "zones".
Movement appears to work differently in that data streams will automatically upload fro existing cars in Uber's fleet.
Uber Movement provides data about how cities move. Uber has partnered with city officials, urban planners and research organisations for Movement.
"We can create visual narratives around topics like safety, efficiency, traffic, or Uber's role in the public-transit network", said Uber engineer Nicolás García Belmonte in a 2016 blog post.
Other ride-hailing companies have also offered data to planners.
Now operating in more than 450 cities, Uber is sitting on a wealth of data about how our cities operate.
Basically, Uber was looking at all the data it gathers (think about all the rides they've given and the travel times and information they get from those) and realized, "Hey, this could be used for public benefit".
"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.