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Uber launches Nairobi traffic data website

Uber Movement Global Product Manager Jordan Gilbertson speaks at the launch of Uber Movement in Nairobi yesterday. PHOTO | SALATON  NJAU | NMG
Uber Movement Global Product Manager Jordan Gilbertson speaks at the launch of Uber Movement in Nairobi yesterday. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Uber has launched a data-sharing portal that provides average zone-to-zone travel times based on historical data sets stored by the online taxi hailing company.

The Uber Movement website is designed to aid urban planners in making informed decisions on road networks in and around the capital.

It includes filters for specific dates and times, allowing users to investigate the impact of occurrences such as floods and electoral processes on traffic.

“You can see just how much of an impact a flooding event had on travel time conditions throughout the road network,” said Jordan Gilbertson, the Uber Movement global product manager, during yesterday’s launch.

Maina Gachoya, an associate at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, noted that Uber Movement would join a group of other actors to alleviate the challenges urban planners face including insufficient data as well as an over-reliance on gut checks.

“The data is intentioned to give planners a sense of what is happening in the network and then inform traffic management solutions and interventions. It is a planning tool,” he said. Kenya is the third African country to get access to transportation data through Uber Movement, after Egypt and South Africa.

Some constraints that Uber Movement could face as an urban planning tool in Nairobi include Uber’s predominant use mainly in higher income areas as well as the fact that potential partners in making their data even more scalable such as telecommunications companies are likely to charge for their data.

“It is an interoperable solution that is not built in a vacuum,” said Mr Gilbertson.

He added that Uber Movement sourced anonymised data from numerous trips to ensure that nobody can trace data to individual users. Uber Movement will also automatically exclude information from insufficient trips for statistical accuracy and to protect commuters’ privacy.

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