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Big data for town planners

This week Uber (read: Google) has announced it’s latest offering, and it’s something a little different. The ride-share giant has created Movement  a platform that allows it’s large scale anonymised datasets to become accessible to civil servants, town planners and policy makers alike.       

The site was launched with this introduction video:

The data stems from 2 billion trips made by it’s passengers since Uber’s launch with the number only likely to increase.  Applications include insights into traffic patterns during different times of the day, and the impact of events like rush hours and road closures on congestion. In light of the recent report that demonstrated that Sydney is the congestion capital of Australasia, with revelations that Sydney features seven of the 10 slowest roads on both sides of the Tasman, surely improving traffic congestion should be top of mind.

Personally, I welcome the opportunity for towns like the City of Sydney to use these data sets to create improvements to our amenities. We’ve seen similar applications in the City of Chicago’s array of things initiative.

During last years local election I have advocated for the introduction of smart technology in our everyday lives. We have technology literally hanging off us, measuring our heartbeats, movements, steps and anything else – why shouldn’t our city have the same?

Parking is consistently raised as an issue across the City of Sydney local Government area.  The City needs a strategic planning approach to position Sydney to meet future demands as Chicago has done. Not only would this parking proposal help residents and visitors more efficiently use available parking space, it would provide valuable data to the City of Sydney regarding regarding usage rates in much the same way the Uber Movement site has developed.

Time will tell how successful the initiative is, and whether or not we see it employed locally.

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