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January 9, 2017updated 13 Jan 2017 11:20am

Uber releases big data travel pattern tool ‘Movement’

Anonymised and aggregated data will eventually be made publicly available.

By James Nunns

Uber is to start offering anonymised data sharing to city officials from trips on its ride-hailing platform.

The idea is to help city officials, planners, and policy makers to use the data and better understand traffic patterns, which could then be used to improve investments in infrastructure.

The company is launching a new public website called “Movement”, which will show trip data such as the average travel time between different city zones in addition to historical travel data for planning authorities.

Uber has been reluctant in the past to share data, citing concerns for passenger privacy as a core reason for denying data requests. However, now the company will be sharing at least some of its data and all of this is said to be anonymised and aggregated on the Movement site.

 

The company said: “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.”

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The move from Uber could help to relieve some of the pressure on it from city authorities such as New York, 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.

Other ride-hailing operations such as Easy Taxi, Le.Taxi and Grab, have started to share data with organisations such as the World Bank under an open data license, which shares traffic data from the GPS streams of their drivers.

The Movement website will initially only give access to people via invitation, before it is opened up to the general public in the future.

Commercial use of the data is being restricted, as it is being made available under the Creative Commons licence for Attribution Non-Commercial license.

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