Uber to share trip data with Boston


Uber announced Tuesday morning that it would share passenger ride data collected by its fleet of contract cars with the City of Boston, a first-of-its-kind partnership. 

This bank of anonymized information would include information such as: Timestamped data for the beginning and end of a trip, zip code information for pickup and drop off, and average distances for trips.

By highlighting its most popular routes, or destination, or travel times, such data could help Boston direct its resources toward maintaining is highest trafficked corridors. A few years down the road, researchers have suggested such information could also direct the deployment of self-driving taxis to places that need them the most, when those cars hit the road.

Cities already gather such data — New York City for example, gets this info from their battalion of yellow cabs. Recently, MIT researchers analyzed that data to make a case for how ride sharing was not only feasible in the city, but could significantly cut down the strain cabs put on riders’ wallets, and on the environment.

Uber was due to share data about its late-night rider habits for use in a hackathon hosted by the MBTA and MassDOT this summer, but decided to do its own analysis and published that instead. Now it seems data mavens can go straight to the source.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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