Uber unveils free traffic data-sharing tool in Nairobi

by Cynthia Ndegwa
Uber in Kenya has unveiled Uber Movement, a digital data-sharing website to help urban planners, city leaders, third parties and the public to better understand the transportation needs of Nairobi.
Anonymized traffic data derived from Uber trips in Nairobi will be freely accessible through Uber’s public and free data-sharing tool, now available in more than 21 cities across the globe.
Uber Movement will provide data from the trips that riders have taken with Uber in Nairobi enabling urban planners to more effectively evaluate where their investments in transportation infrastructure should be made.
The launch was held at a forum attended by government officials, city planners and local and international think tanks.
Speaking at the launch, Uber’s Head of Public Policy for  East Africa, Cezanne Maherali said Uber Movement is the next step to connecting cities and having the opportunity to recognise its great transportation needs.
“With our technology and the anonymized data-sets we’ve made available, we can help urban planners and researchers reach more informed conclusions around transportation and infrastructure development”, Maherali said.
Presently, Movement shows average travel times between zones in a city, derived from anonymous and aggregated on-trip data from Uber vehicles.
Uber is planning the next set of functionality and data-sets that will be added to Movement in the coming months. Over time, Uber plans to add additional cities, data-sets and capabilities to the platform. 
Uber will also continue engaging with government officials, urban planners and citizens on ways to improve Movement, with the aim of providing more relevant data that improves Nairobi city.
Uber Movement only uses aggregate anonymous data and cannot be used to access any personally identifiable information to protect the privacy of riders and drivers. The data and insights from the website  are now available to everyone and be found at https://movement.uber.com.
Present at the launch was the Institute for Transportation and Policy Development Manager Maina Gachoya who lauded Uber Movement saying it’s a web-based platform that displays historical zone-to-zone travel times using data from the billions of trips that riders have taken with Uber. He said the tool will support the efforts of organizations like the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy.
“We are delighted by this opportunity to partner with Uber to glean insights on how to ensure that mobility in Nairobi is orderly and structured. Uber Movement provides us with a new dataset that broadens our understanding of Nairobi’s traffic system reliability and vulnerability, this will enable us to build efficient transport networks”, Gachoya added
On his part, Jordan Gilbertson,  Global Product Manager for Uber Movement said: “Uber’s mission is to be part of a broader mobility movement, which aims at establishing smart cities of the future.”
He said today’s cities don’t have access to speed and congestion data except on major roads and they often rely on expensively produced and maintained data-sets. 
Kenya is the second country in Sub-Saharan Africa to launch Uber Movement with data available for Nairobi. The website was launched in South Africa last year and provides trip data in its major cities; Gauteng, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.
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