Manila is one of 4 cities around the world where the company piloted its new program Uber Movement, where historical data on traffic will be made publicly available for free
UBER MOVEMENT. Product manager Jordan Gilberston says Uber will release its data on various cities for free. Rappler photo
CALIFORNIA, USA – US-based ridesharing application Uber shared with the Philippine government its rich data on traffic in Manila, hoping to help ease the nightmarish clogging of its roads.
Rappler learned that Manila is one of 4 cities around the world where the company piloted its new program Uber Movement, where historical data on traffic will be made publicly available for free. The others are Boston, Sydney, and Washington D.C.
Rappler was invited to the Future of Cities summit organized by Uber at its headquarters in San Francisco.
The country’s lead agency on traffic, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), is one of the few who have gained initial access to the program that was launched in January although product manager Jordan Gilbertson said they will roll out data on other cities soon.
"The root of problem is there is insufficient data to make informed decisions. The question that we put before the crew was: How can we prompt cities to make the types pf data-driven decisions using the resources that Uber has available," said Gilbertson.
Uber head of transportation policy and research Andrew Salzberg said there’s a lot of interest in Manila because of the challenging traffic situation and the availability of reliable partners who can implement projects on the ground.
In 2015, navigation app Waze gave Metro Manila the notoriety of having the "worst traffic in the world." It was based on the rating of Waze users meaning Filipino drivers have the most complaints about the roads compared to other nationalities using the mobile application.
Uber Movement aggreggates data collected every day to show how much time it takes to ply certain routes depending on several factors such as days of the week, time of the day, or activities undertaken in the area.
"By delivering all these insights to cities, we can start to give back to communiites in a meaningful way while also solving these very real problems that are impactings the cities in which we operation. This has been the core of what has become Uber Movement," said Gilbertson.
Uber Movement can show how a baseball game, closures of certain routes, or maintenance operations, for example, affect total travel time to and from certain locations. Uber envisions this data could help governments make informed decisions when they draft transportation policies.
Salzberg gave assurances data that the privacy of Uber individual users are protected. Only aggregate data on travel times are shared and no demographics are revealed.
"We’re showing aggregated trips happening between two zones and the average time, bucketing them by hours. You cannot get individual trips here, which is important. If we show individual trips, there is a lot of privacy implcations to that and it’s not necessarily as easily useful for the kind of traffic planning pruposes we’re building for here.," said Salzberg.
Gilbertson said they were conscious to exclude collection of data that may violate data privacy laws. – Rappler.com