For most of its existence, Uber hasn’t been shy about claiming to be at the forefront of the future of transport which fits into yesterday’s announcement of Uber Movement which promises to provide aggregated and anonymised trip data to give communities and businesses an overview of road usage in their districts.
Jordan Gilbertson, one of the company’s Product Managers, and Andrew Salzberg, Head of Transportation Policy, described how Uber intends to make transit time data available.
Uber trips occur all over cities, so by analyzing a lot of trips over time, we can reliably estimate how long it takes to get from one area to another. Since Uber is available 24/7, we can compare travel conditions across different times of day, days of the week, or months of the year—and how travel times are impacted by big events, road closures or other things happening in a city.
As the Washington Post reports, transport agencies do already have a lot of data on some aspects of commuter behaviour – particularly public transport usage – and the Uber information fills as ‘missing part of the puzzle’.
Taxis and buses are also increasing equipped with real time tracking equipment that also gives this data while traffic services like Wayze have been collecting this information for a decade.
So agencies aren’t short of this data and the concentration of Uber’s customer base in more affluent areas means their information may be skewed away from poorer areas. Recently a Sydney taxi driver mentioned to me how he’d stopped driving for Uber because most of the city’s sprawling Western Suburbs where he tended to drive didn’t use the service.
Uber’s offer is another piece in their data strategy that sees the company being a data hub for the logistics industry. It also helps if you’ve co-opted governments into your scheme.