Uber Technologies Inc. is currently the world largest ride sharing service company. Uber currently operates in more than 700 cities worldwide and has 2 million drivers working for them. In 2018, Uber completed a total of 10 billion trips worldwide.
Uber has launched Uber Movement, a tool that it claims will enable urban planners to manage traffic and improve planning. Uber Movement works on the data collected from the countless rides taken on Uber’s platform every day.
Uber completes an average of 5 million per day worldwide. With such a massive scale of operations, Uber has access to a vast store of information regarding ride data, traffic congestion and rush hours in urban centres.
This data can provide a lot of insight on how to manage traffic and urban planning. However, Uber has refused \share this ride data with government authorities in the past, citing privacy concerns.
In December last year, New York city proposed a new rule to make it compulsory for transportation service companies to share trip data with government officials. Uber opposed this move, saying that it invades user privacy.
What is Uber movement?
In January 2017, Uber announced that it was giving access to it’s large pool of ride data and traffic information to urban governing authorities. This was planned to be achieved through the launch of a new tool, called Uber Movement.
Uber’s team of developers devoted almost an year to study and put together trip data in three cities: Manila, Melbourne and Washington DC.
Uber stated that its new Movement tool will help urban planning officials with data that will be useful in reducing traffic congestion, reducing emissions, improving road safety and plan infrastructure investments.
In 2018, the Movement website was made available to the public, helping commuters manage their travel more efficiently.
Uber Movement in action:
Uber Movement aims to provide its vast store of trip data to urban planners. According to Uber, this will to help them create ‘smarter, more efficient, more enjoyable cities for all of us’.
According to Uber, its Movement tool can be used in a variety of situations that arise while managing cities.
Managing Travel Times for Commuters:
The Movement tool provides averagetravel times between different parts of a city, any time and day of the week. This is done by analysing previous Uber rides between the same two localities.
Using this, anyone can estimate the time taken for a ride on a given route and plan their work schedules accordingly.
In May 2019, Uber Movement announced a new tool, called Street Speeds. Uber said that it was launching this tool, since authorities ‘requested formore granularity and interoperability’ in Uber Movement’s data.
The new tool will provide the average speeds that a vehicle can be expected to attain while travelling in a given route. New York City’s average speed was calculated as 17 miles per hour by using this feature.
Managing unforeseen events:
Uber says that data from its Movement tool can be utilised to plan for and better respond to crises and emergencies that may arise in cities.
Uber cites the example of how planners used its Movement tool to study the effect that the disruption of Washington’s metrorail service had on the city’s traffic conditions.
Providing insights on how major cities move:
Uber partnered with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) to create a transportation metric. This is a database on the means commuters use to travel in major Australian cities.
Managing and Tracking Healthy Food:
Uber Movement provides data that can possibly be used to calculate the time that food materials spend travelling from their respective sources to supermarkets.
This will be of great help to health experts to ascertain the quality and health of these perishable goods.
Uber’s latest tool has sparked concerns about user privacy and safety. Critics argue that Uber Movement can be used by hackers and government agencies to track individual riders.
Uber, however assures that all data is anonymized and aggregated to ensure no individually identifiable data or user behavior can be collected through the Uber Movement service.
Uber Movement promises to provide city authorities access to only their aggregate data about ride traffic and user movement.
Uber plans to introduce it’s Movement tool to all cities where it currently operates. This would mean that Uber would make available a large stash of valuable data. Hence, authorities can manage traffic and plan cities more efficiently.