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Driving Solutions To Build Smarter Cities

January 13, 2015 / Boston

Since day one, Uber’s mission has been to improve city life by connecting people with safe, reliable, hassle-free rides through the use of technology. As we have grown, so has our ability to share information that can serve a greater good. By sharing data with municipal partners we can help cities become more liveable, resilient, and innovative.

Today, Boston joins Uber in a first-of-its-kind partnership to help expand the city’s capability to solve problems by leveraging data provided by Uber. The data will provide new insights to help manage urban growth, relieve traffic congestion, expand public transportation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“In Boston, data is driving our conversations, our policy making and how we envision the future of our city. We are using data to change the way we deliver services and we welcome the opportunity to add to our resources. This will help us reach our transportation goals, improve the quality of our neighborhoods and allow us to think smarter, finding more innovative and creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.”

                                                                              —Mayor Martin J. Walsh

What Is Smart Data?

Uber is committed to sharing data, compiled in a manner that protects the privacy of riders and drivers, that can help cities target solutions for their unique challenges. This initiative presents a new standard for the future development of our cities – in communities big or small we can bridge data and policy to build sophisticated solutions for a stronger society. For this effort, we will deliver anonymized trip-level data by ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA) which is the U.S. Census’ geographical representation of zip codes.

Types of resources available to cities includes comprehensive, detailed trip-level data from Uber, anonymized by ZCTA:

  • Timestamp including the date & time for the beginning of a trip
  • ZCTA in which trip began (pick-up)
  • ZCTA in which trip ended (drop-off)
  • Distance traveled during trip, in miles
  • Duration of trip, in seconds
  • Technical support to interpret and utilize the data
  • Support for Vision Zero and other transportation safety initiatives
“Local regulators often demand and receive granular trip records from taxi and car service providers. It’s great to see Uber taking a more privacy friendly approach by providing ZIP code level records, which can be just as useful for city planning purposes but which help maintain individual privacy.”

        —Jules Polonetsky, Director and Co-Chair of the Future of Privacy Forum

How Can This Data Help Cities?

To date, 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, with data-driven decisions about:

  • Vision Zero-related passenger safety policies
  • Traffic planning
  • Congestion reduction
  • Flow of residents across the City
  • Impact of events, disasters and other activities on City transportation
  • Identification of zoning changes and needs
  • Creation or reduction of parking
  • Facilitation of additional transportation solutions for marquee City initiatives


This data can be utilized to help cities achieve their transportation and planning goals without compromising personal privacy. By helping cities understand the way their residents move, we can work together to make our communities stronger. Smart Cities can benefit from smart data and we will champion municipal efforts devoted to achieving data-driven urban growth, mobility and safety for communities.