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How Big Data Is Influencing Uber and Transportation

In 2009, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp created Uber, a company that has completely revolutionized the transportation industry. While Uber continues to change the way that people interact with on-demand technology and transportation options, the company has also begun to have an even greater influence on society by harnessing big data in order to help optimize traffic flow throughout big cities. Uber’s newest app, Movement, will help city planners improve mobility throughout the urban areas where it operates.

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What Is Movement?

Movement is a website that offers people like city planners and public officials access to the traffic information it gathers from the people who use the app. The site anonymizes data that it collects from its users so that the information is not tied to one person’s transportation habits.

Who Can Access Movement?

At the launch of Movement, Uber will be offering access to the site to organizations who apply. Eventually, however, the company intends to offer the information on the site to anyone in the general public. Uber is intending for Movement to be used by city officials looking to make infrastructure decisions, plan transportation routes and strategies, and get a better understanding of the transportation picture in their city. Because Movement offers real-time transportation that has been gathered, it can help city planners make more informed, numbers-based decisions.

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How Does Movement Work?

Movement illustrates traffic information on a map — broken down by traffic analysis zones or smaller geographic delineations within a city that makes traffic data more digestible. Users of movement can adjust the information they see via factors like geographic location, time of day and time of week, and they can also download the data from the site in printable charts or in raw format to manipulate themselves. In addition, Movement offers information about how traffic in a city is affected by things like road closures, large events or big city functions.

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The Benefits of Movement

Movement doesn’t just benefit city planners who can optimize traffic patterns and improve infrastructure in their cities. It also benefits Uber customers, who can get to where they want to go faster and for a better fare, as well as drivers, who can deliver their services more efficiently. It also helps services like Uber EATS, where drivers pick up and deliver food (or goods) operate better. Happier customers and drivers mean more people who are excited about using the app.

 

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Also, Uber benefits from providing city governments with helpful information. Because the app has had trouble getting off the ground in cities with strong taxi industries, building close relationships to city governments can help ensure that Uber is supported and able to operate in those urban areas.

Big Data and Transportation

Movement is not the only application of big data and transportation. In fact, there are many ways people are harnessing data across the transportation industry to make getting around easier for citizens and better for society at large.

 

One way that big data is being utilized is to optimize public transportation options for commuters. Data lends insight into what size trains, buses, etc. are needed in specific geographical areas, how frequently vehicles should run, and what times are most popular for commuting. Also, data collected by sensors on infrastructure like train tracks and cable car rails can help cities do predictive maintenance and avoid any unforeseen any accidents or damage before they occur. Finally, big data can also help cities reroute traffic in the case of unexpected events like accidents or road closures — ensuring as little disruption as possible in the lives of commuters.

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Public transportation is a vast beast. In nearly every city across the world, governments must control and maintain vast networks of routes and vehicles in order to help citizens get around. Thanks to big data, however, that job is getting easier — and offering the best and safest transportation services possible is becoming more and more the norm.