Recently, Uber announced their intentions to release their global ride sharing data to the world, free of charge. DC, along with Manila and Sydney, will be the first three cities to have their data released.
The technology that powers Uber generates a vast amount of data which Uber uses to improve their services, but they feel that the data has a greater purpose. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Product Manager Jordan Gilbertson believes that, “By delivering these insights to cities, we can give back to the community in a meaningful way.” Data that was previously only available from vendors will now be available for free through Uber’s website entitled, “Movement” which will launch in February.
This announcement is well timed, as urban and community planners are struggling to keep pace with changing demographics, movement across cities, and developing traffic patterns. Uber’s data allows them to access not only to commuter information but demographic information as well, seeing how many Washingtonians, from a majority of neighborhoods, travel when not using the Metro. It also gives urban planners a better understanding of traffic patters, giving them a more accurate numerical estimate of cars on the road at any given time.
The data has a variety of uses, including generating maps that illuminate how Washingtonians travel with the app (seen below).
(Above, a map of Washington on March 16, 2016 when metro service was shut down for emergency repairs made using Uber Movement Data. From Washington Business Journal)
See their announcement video below.