Uber Technologies is opening up a small sample of its ridership data with the introduction of a traffic dashboard called Uber Movement, saying the tool is designed to help city leaders, urban planners and civic communities.
The project is rolling out with traffic information curated by Uber's data whizzes for three cities: Manila, Sydney and Washington. The company hopes it will cover dozens of cities by mid-February.
"By delivering these insights to cities, we can give back to the community," said Andrew Salzberg, head of transportation policy at Uber.
Uber is positioning Movement as its version of Google Trends, which lets anyone analyze what the population is searching for online. Instead of providing street-level information, Uber Movement breaks each city into zones and shows the travel time between those sectors during various times of day.
City planners could use the dashboard to compare traffic at different times of the year or in certain parts of the city during events, showing, for instance, how a concert venue affects gridlock.
However, the website doesn't provide details on individual trips, vehicles or passengers. Movement won't enable regulators to figure out, for example, which drivers are illegally taking fares at the airport or working extended shifts. Uber said the data are anonymized on purpose to protect customers' privacy.
New York City's transportation regulator wants access to more granular data, which could let it analyze driver fatigue or illegal activity. The city held a public hearing on the matter last week.
Uber's international competitors took steps last month to make more of their data public. Easy Taxi, Grab and Le Taxi, which together cover more than 30 countries, are working with the World Bank to publish traffic information from their drivers as part of the Open Transport Partnership. It follows a project the World Bank launched last April compiling GPS coordinates from more than 500,000 Grab drivers in the Philippines to monitor traffic in the country.