Uber gives cities a peek under the hood, sharing trip data with new tool

Now operating in more than 450 locations, Uber is sitting on a wealth of data about how our cities operate.

Notorious for its heated battles with local government, the ride hailing service is playing a tad nicer in 2017, making some of that knowledge accessible to infrastructure planners and researchers with a new website called Movement.

Uber product manager Jordan Gilbertson and head of transportation policy Andrew Salzberg said in a statement that Movement aims to help planners “make informed decisions about our cities.”

Sharing information around the length of trips and road conditions at specific times and days of the week, Movement aggregates Uber’s data, ostensibly allowing planners to take a look at which areas may need new infrastructure investment to speed up trips and ease congestion.

Sharing this kind of data raises obvious privacy concerns for riders, but Uber says the information will be “anonymized and aggregated.”

Uber is granting first Movement access to planning authorities, but will let the public in mid-February. The company has partnered with organisations in Washington DC, Manila and Sydney to work on the product and will add more cities shortly, an Uber spokeperson told Mashable.

The American company has been opening up its books in small ways in recent months. In October, it launched the IPA Transport Metric in partnership with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) to share data on “road network performance” in Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Despite initiatives like the IPA Transport Metric and Movement, Uber is not quite willing to share all its data. 

In early January, the company emailed New York passengers asking them to protest a rule that demands the company share ride destination information with the city government.

“We have an obligation to protect our riders’ data, especially in an age when information collected by government agencies like the TLC can be hacked, shared, misused or otherwise made public,” Uber said in a statement at the time.