Uber is planning to put their ‘God View’ to good use. In Boston, the company is planning on sharing info they gain on our rides using God View with the city. The goal is to help ease congestion and allow the city to better understand how citizens travel. Boston officials would also get info on time spent in Uber cars, as well as dates and times of travel. The information would be presented anonymously, and represents the first time Uber has shared such data.
The timing of Uber’s God View data sharing is interesting. Earlier this month, Massachusetts recognized Uber as an “official” form of transportation in the state. Uber says they hope the info-sharing with Boston will serve as their model for other municipalities as well, but they’re not sharing info with anyone else. We’ve not learned if any state or city has embraced Uber as openly as Massachusetts has, though.
Uber says they want to “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”, though the fixes they suggest will come of the data sharing scheme seem self-serving:
• 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
It’s unknown what these reports, issued quarterly, will really do for the city of Boston. Uber has run afoul of other municipalities and state governments for their refusal to share info similar this anonymized God View info before, so we’re dubious of the reasoning here. It seems Uber is serving their own interest and masquerading it as a public service, and we won’t forget Uber has vowed to use God View data against passengers rather than to aide anyone prior to this announcement.