Uber to open its data books to Boston transit planners

Uber to open its data to Boston transit planners

The exploding ride-share, taxi-esque company Uber has garnered much praise – and much criticism – for the lack of accountability of its drivers who use their own cars to ferry customers.

Now in an effort to squelch doubters and build partnerships, Uber announced it will partner with the city of Boston to launch what they call a “smart data” initiative. 

The plan calls for Uber to release information on its quarterly trip logs, which will include trip time stamps, to assist the city with alleviating traffic and creating smoother transportation systems.  Uber will also provide Boston with pick-up and drop-off data on ZIP codes, distance traveled during trips, duration of trips and technical support to interpret and make use of the data.

Uber hopes to establish similar partnerships with other cities across the country.  The company maintains that its datasets will benefit city governments because, “most cities have not had access to granular data describing the flows and trends of private traffic. The data provided by Uber will help policymakers and city planners develop a more detailed understanding of where people in the city need to go and how to improve traffic flows and congestion to get them there.”

Uber’s smart data initiative could be yet another step toward further legitimization with governments, where it is making some headway.  Massachusetts recently passed legislation to officially recognize Uber as a mode of transportation, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

However, WSJ also pointed out that New York last year suspended parts of Uber’s service for failure to provide data similar to their new “smart data” initiative, which several taxi companies already provide.  Uber is also planning to partner with New York City next for its smart data initiative.   

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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