Uber has turned over a treasure trove of data on transportation over the weekend, which may help officials reduce traffic during commutes and improve the flow of traffic.
According to a report by The Washington Post, the data, which Uber loaded onto a public website, reveals the time it takes to travel between different cities around the country at different times. The data comes from Uber logs of trips that millions of riders around the country take every day.
Linda Bailey, executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, told The Washington Post that the release of the data should build goodwill with some cities, which would be welcome news since Uber has been fighting with some cities in recent weeks. Bailey did note that Uber is continuing a pattern of deciding when and what data it will release, which has irked some regulators.
“One of the things that has been frustrating to cities is that they see this as a service that’s making use of public right of way, public facilities, and isn’t necessarily giving back on just basic openness,” Bailey said in the report. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but there’s still a ways to go for cities to feel like they’re getting more than basic information.”
The data Uber released on a website dubbed Uber Movement shows information on four cities, including the Washington metro area, Boston, Manila and Sydney. Uber’s head of transportation policy, Andrew Salzberg, said data on dozens of more cities will be added shortly.
“As vehicles move within a city, we’re collecting this constant stream of data,” Salzberg said in the report. “Some of this data is treated as digital exhaust, when, in fact, it’s immensely valuable.”
Last week, reports surfaced that Uber is gearing up for a fight with New York City, which wants the ride-hailing app to share information with the city about where drivers pick up and drop off customers. According to a report, Uber is not keen to share that data and, on Thursday (Jan. 5), presented a case at a hearing as to why it doesn’t want to hand it over. Prior to the hearing, Uber had sent an email to New York City customers titled “The government wants to know where you’re headed … on every ride.”