Uber is introducing a new tool called "Movement" that officials say will improve traffic. In it, the ride-hailing stalwart is stashing a trove of transit data, a system coveted by transit folk for years.
The company on Sunday shared a tool that will allow users to observe transportation data for several major cities. The tool could help reduce commute times and ameliorate the flow of traffic, local officials suggested. The data is housed under a public site, where the travel time between neighborhoods in various cities, among other types of data, is shown.
The data is culled from Uber trips by virtue of GPS logs, meaning more Uber trips taken each day will inform the tool progressively. Collectively, data provided by Uber trips will show how travel gets faster or slower over time. The Movement's functions are currently available for registered users only, but it should be rolling out to everyone in the coming months, reports The Verge.
Designed For Urban Planners
Movement was designed particularly for city governments and urban planners, individuals partaking the gargantuan task of traffic research for prospects of lane pattern alterations or highway planning. Collecting data for these studies are obviously expensive, while also requiring vast amounts of data, meaning a lot of time is involved. Uber's tool could attenuate the task's difficulty.
In a pilot report for example, Uber put the metro shutdown over at Washington D.C. under scrutiny, looking at how the shutdown's inconvenience forced the effect of prolonged travel times in the city.
The timing of Movement Tool's release coincides with another scuff over data the company is currently engaged in. Uber is trying to block New York City officials' intent to data-gather drop-off times and locations from its own network of drivers around the city. If Uber allows it, the move will allow officials to determine if drivers are working too many hours. That prospect, however, violates the privacy of its passengers, Uber said.
Project Metropolis, Uber's internal team of professionals procuring civic data tools, is responsible for Movement. The coterie is poised to aid city governments implement better decisions for transit systems by virtue of Uber's anonymous passenger data.
As it stands, the tool is only available for a few cities only, but Uber hopes to expand it to major cities down the line.
Apart from its battle with New York City officials, Uber is also facing ire over other fronts, such as its experiments with autonomous ride-hailing services, or working conditions for freelance Uber drivers. Its predilection to store data and cherry-pick what to give officials has also irked regulators, in what's looked at as defiance to the city's request for data.
Despite this, city planners still marvel at Movement's potential traffic leverage. It could potentially help city governments to plan ahead when a major event is slated to occur in a particular city, be it concerts, major festivals, or even an election.
Of course, the effect is still hardly noticeable at present, but that should change accordingly as Movement is launched in more areas.
Thrilled about Movement? How will it help urban planning, in your opinion? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!