The Keys to the Kingdom: Thanks to Uber, Life-Changing Urban Data is Now at Cities' Fingertips

Rideshare company Uber has finally released a trove of precious transportation data that that could be used to improve traffic mobility across crowded urban centers. Cities have long sought the information but, given the prickly relationship between the company and its regulators, chances of cooperation looked scant.

No longer.

The data is now available through the company’s new Movement website, which was unveiled last week. By comparing average trip times from one point to another, agencies and officials can better understand traffic patterns in their cities. This can be a tremendous asset in city planning, cutting down on commute times, and improving overall traffic flow.

“Our relationships with cities have typically been uneven, but there are a lot of places around the world where Uber and the cities we operate in have the same goals,” said Andrew Salzberg, head of transportation policy at Uber. “We operate better in a world that has policy grounded on data.”

As beneficial as Uber’s move may be to the public at large, altruism isn’t the main motive here. The company is hoping to craft a better working relationship with municipalities. Someday, the company hopes its services could be an integral part of municipal planning.

Privacy advocates have already expressed concerns about the collection and dissemination of passengers’ data. Uber has given its assurance that all information is 100% aggregated and anonymized, so that there should be no issues with privacy.