​Uber Movement opens your trip data to third parties for urban planning

The Californian startup will be making data on its 2 billion trips available to third parties in a bid to help improve urban planning.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Californian startup darling Uber has launched Uber Movement, its latest venture that will allow third parties to access data from all of the trips undertaken on its platform.

According to Uber, preserving rider and driver privacy is its number one priority, and all data is anonymised and aggregated before being handed out to third parties in a bid to keep personally identifiable information and user behaviour hidden.

Uber said that it has received consistent feedback that access to aggregated data will help city planners make decisions on how to adapt existing infrastructure and invest in future efficiency solutions.

"Over the past six and a half years, we've learned a lot about the future of urban mobility and what it means for cities and the people who live in them," Uber said. "We hope Uber Movement can play a role in helping cities grow in a way that works for everyone."

Uber -- currently valued in excess of $68 billion -- said that Movement makes all insights available under the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial licence. It noted that Movement will be gradually rolled out to everyone in the coming weeks, with Sydney amongst the first to have access.

"We're continually iterating on Movement in collaboration with government experts, transportation professionals, and academic organisations around the globe. We're always interested in discussing research opportunities and soliciting feedback," the company said.

"Conducting complex analysis on transportation patterns allows for better decision-making around future infrastructure investments."

With the ride-booking startup screaming security from day one, Uber revealed in its first transparency report released last year that it had turned over data on more than 12 million users to US local and federal authorities.

Uber turned over data on 205 driver accounts over 408 requests, complying fully with about one-third of those requests, and partially complying in 52 percent.

Earlier this month, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed a new rule [PDF] to expand the data reporting obligations for ride-booking platforms, which would see the likes of Uber report the GPS coordinates of passenger pick-up and drop-off locations to the city government. According to local reports, under New York's Freedom of Information Law, that data in bulk will also be subject to full public release.

Currently, New York City has issued almost 14,000 official taxi medallion licences, but according to researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the city could make do with no more than a quarter of this number.

The team at MIT developed a new algorithm which crunched the numbers and, assuming carpooling becomes more popular, MIT has come to the conclusion that NYC only needs 3,000 four-person cars to serve 98 percent of transport demand in the city.

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