The US app-based road transport provider has agreed to provide comprehensive data with a view to improving urban planning in Boston.

Uber providing data to promote ‘smarter’ urban transport solutions

Uber has just launched, in partnership with the US city of Boston, a programme which it is hailing as a ‘new standard for the future development of our cities’. The car-on-demand service provider has committed to sharing the data it collects from its alternative taxi business to help city planning and improve the organisation of transport facilities in ‘Beantown’, as the city is sometimes known.Uber has agreed to share information on the dates, duration, points of departure and arrival, plus distance covered, on trips using Uber in the city of Boston. And notwithstanding recent doubts surrounding the practical feasibility of Uber’s data confidentiality policies, the startup insists that anonymity will be guaranteed.The programme has a number of goals. The insights from the information Uber collects and shares should help to manage urban growth, relieve traffic congestion and assist in planning the expansion of public transportation, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mayor Martin K. Walsh recently wrote in his blog: “In Boston, data is driving our conversations, our policy making, and how we envision the future of our city […] This will help us reach our transportation goals, improve the quality of our neighbourhoods and allow us to think smarter, finding more innovative and creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.”

In its basic aims, this initiative is not dissimilar to the project initiated last year by Professor Dan Work and graduate student Brian Donovan at the University of Illinois, who set out to use GPS data from New York taxi cabs with a view to smoothing traffic flows in the Big Apple.


By Pauline Canteneur