San Francisco-based cab aggregator Uber is in the news again and this time for making use of its terabytes of ride data for an online tool called Movement. The underlying principle of Movement is to make moving in cities efficient by mapping points such as rush hours, ride durations, shutdowns and places travelled to. The data can be used by governments and local authorities in improving city’s infrastructure by understanding commute patterns.
Uber Movement is anonymizing data by divvying it up into geographic zones which can further be used by city planners in improving transportation infrastructure. The tool is not divulging specific rider detail such as routes and departure points. Even then, the news has raised several eyebrows over privacy concerns and making user databases accessible to public. Detractors worry over the privacy of the user data shared and whether anonymization would truly protect user’s identity.
According to the Movement page, “Making our cities move more efficiently and grow in way that works for everyone. That's why we're providing access to anonymized data from over 2 billion trips to help improve urban planning around the world.”
This is how Uber movement tool plans to revolutionize cities with ride data:
City officials: Can gain historical insights that will enable them to measure the impact of road improvements, closures and and more.
Planners and policymakers: policymakers can now make planned investment based on detailed analysis of commute and transportation patterns that will help in making informed decisions.
General public: The data will be made accessible to everyone and Uber strongly believes it will lead to groundbreaking insights and ideas from everywhere.
The news was meted with a positive response from policymakers. Muriel Bowser, Mayor, Washington DC, USA welcomed the Uber Movement tool by sharing this on the Movement page, “In today’s time, smart technology and intelligent use of data is critical to our success and District of Columbia is committed to using these tools to keep pace with the rapid growth of our neighborhoods. We are truly excited to partner up with Uber on this new platform. We would like to make use of data sources to reduce traffic congestion, improve infrastructure, and make our streets safer for every visitor and resident”.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.