Uber opens its data on travel times in the Paris region

Uber publishes displacement data from the activity of its drivers in Ile-de-France within its Movement platform. All you need is an Uber account for free access. Explanations.

uber movement

The love story between Uber and Paris continues. “It was in Paris in 2005 that the idea of Uber was born, in Paris that Uber first launched out of the United States in 2008, and that the functionality” Pool “was introduced in Europe” , recalls Alexandre Droulers, head of “new mobility” at Uber France. And it is still in Paris that Uber decided to launch the Movement platform on the old continent. He will announce it during Autonomy festival this 20 October 2017 in Paris.

“Movement” is this site launched at the beginning of the year on which the transport service shares part of its data, under Creative Commons license *. Having an Uber account is enough to access it for free. The French capital is the seventh city to be integrated into the tool.

Insights rather than raw data

Uber does not let go of his (precious) real-time data, but will publish every three months “trends” from the activity of his drivers. The site starts with the publication of “travel times” between the Paris areas (at the municipal scale, or infracommunal, via the “Iris” division). It is possible to go back to 2016, to make comparisons between given periods, isolating certain days of the week, or even specific time slots. The crawled data can be downloaded to be cross-referenced with other external datasets.

Billions of data compiled

How is this database built? The datas are taken from the Uber drivers application. “Every four seconds, the application sends data (positioning, scheduling) to Uber, says Shan Muhuntan, Engineering Manager Uber Movement, which represents billions of data.” This mass of datas, anonymized when it arrives on Uber’s servers, is handled in part manually by the Movement team (six people). This must ensure that Uber has enough data from zone to zone for published “trends” to be relevant. “We are working to automate the process as much as possible,” said Shan Mahuntan.

Get closer to the cities

For Uber, “data is a good tool to get closer to other mobility actors,” says Alexandre Droulers. Including cities and local authorities that can use them in their decision-making processes. “They can rely on this data to prioritize their investments, which roads are the most used … Previously, they depended mostly on spaced surveys over time,” says Adam Gromis, Global lead on environmental sustainability. “We help them imagine what their transport network will be like in ten years”. In the future, Uber can even go so far as to analyze the vibration data of its drivers’ smartphones to create road condition indicators.

Movement is a way for Uber to establish its influence and to assert itself as an essential partner (and not an adversary) for cities and other transport stakeholders. An approach reminiscent of that of Waze (entity of Google) who launched an exchange program anonymized data with cities from 2014.