Earlier this month, Uber announced its plan to publicize transportation data for more than two billion trips taken in cities throughout the U.S. and across the globe. Through a website called Movement, users can access data and reliably evaluate the time it takes to get from one area of a city to another. Because Uber operates at all hours of the day, Movement will enable town officials, urban planners and the general public to compare travel information depending on the day of the week, a specific time of day and other variables. Users also can access traffic estimates based on significant events that have taken place in the past, such as road closures, concerts and sporting events.
The implications of Uber’s decision go far beyond the company’s desire to influence municipal planning (and mend its rocky relationship with government). So, what can we learn from Uber’s bold move and the subsequent media buzz? We’ve compiled some takeaways below:
Learn from controversy.
In a matter of weeks, Uber has transitioned from an adversary to a partner of the public sector. Uber’s information could help municipalities save money and time that would go into otherwise costly research, and could lead to more efficient roads and public transportation networks throughout the world. While the motivation behind Movement is still unclear, the media attention following Uber’s announcement has publicized the company’s desire to give back to the cities in which it operates.
“We’re collecting this constant stream of data,” said Uber production manager Jordan Gilbertson, as quoted in a Wall Street Journal article. “By giving these insights to cities, we can give back to the community in a meaningful way.”
Data makes a difference.
In today’s business environment, it’s more important than ever before for companies to utilize their resources in order to stay ahead. According to a recent Forbes article, Uber’s Movement is an example of a “data network effect,” which has previously been accomplished by other tech-industry leaders such as Amazon and Google. As Uber collects more and more data than the competition, it can expand its services at a faster rate, said Harry Glaser, CEO of Periscope Data.
Make data public and recognizable.
Another advantage for Uber, as mentioned in the Forbes article, is the potential to recruit and attract qualified professionals who are interested in working with the ridership data. Once the data is released to the public, Uber could gain exposure in settings such as college and universities among students in data science. While Movement has its own web site, the origin of the data – Uber – is made clear.
It remains to be seen what’s in store for cities as technology continues to shape the way we travel. However, we can all learn from the way Uber has capitalized on this trend: by working with cities instead of against them, Uber changed the conversation surrounding its brand and increased its visibility within the competitive technology industry.