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Allegheny

Uber Movement shows Pittsburgh travel times based on every ride since 2016

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 10:33 a.m.
This screenshot from the Uber Movement tool shows the impact the Liberty Bridge fire and closure had on traffic around the city. (Photo from Uber)
This screenshot from the Uber Movement tool shows the impact the Liberty Bridge fire and closure had on traffic around the city. (Photo from Uber)
This screenshot from the Uber Movement tool shows how long it will take to get from one are of the Pittsburgh area to another. (Photo from Uber)
This screenshot from the Uber Movement tool shows how long it will take to get from one are of the Pittsburgh area to another. (Photo from Uber)
Ride-hailing giant Uber’s full-year net loss widened to $4.5 billion in 2017 as the company endured a tumultuous year that included multiple scandals and the replacement of its CEO.
Jeff Chiu/AP
Ride-hailing giant Uber’s full-year net loss widened to $4.5 billion in 2017 as the company endured a tumultuous year that included multiple scandals and the replacement of its CEO.

Uber on Wednesday launched a data tool for the Pittsburgh area aimed at helping city and urban planners and transportation officials better understand the region's traffic.

Uber Movement shows travel times between parts of the Pittsburgh area based on Uber rides since 2016.

“This is something that can be used by urban planners to plan the future of cities,” said Jordan Gilbertson, project manager of Uber Movement.

Uber Movement is open to the public and free to use. People can click on a point in the Pittsburgh area and see the travel time to different areas. The entire data set can also be downloaded and used in other applications. Uber Movement can be accessed here .

Gilbertson showed the effect of the Liberty Bridge fire in September 2016 during a demo of the tool for journalists Tuesday. Travel times to Downtown were 50 percent longer than normal while traffic on the outbound side of the bridge and Liberty Tunnels was much lighter.

The tool could also be used to see the effects of new traffic signals, infrastructure or other traffic decisions on the area as a whole, Gilbertson said.

“That sort of data is not something you can see just by focusing on a specific route,” Gilbertson said.

Uber collected the data from the smartphones of Uber drivers while they were on duty, Gilbertson said. No data was collected from passengers or from drivers while off duty. All the data is anonymous.

The tool does not include any data collected by Uber's fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.

Gilbertson said Uber is working to add data to the Movement tool using other sensors on the phone. Uber could show how rough sections of roads are by taking data from sensors inside driver smartphones.

Uber will work with Carnegie Mellon University's Traffic21 Institute to use the data. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement the data and collaborative effort will make the city's streets safer and help the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure plan for the future.

Sean Qian, a researcher at the Traffic21 Institute and an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at CMU, said the data will help assess area traffic and the reliability and vulnerability of its traffic systems.

“We can discern what causes bottlenecks and when they are likely to happen, so the city can allocate their resources to where they are most needed,” Qian said in a statement. “Then in real time, we can predict travel time for up to 60 minutes for the large-scale network.”

Uber announced Movement at the beginning of 2017 and has slowly released it in cities across the world. The tool it launched in a dozen cities Wednesday, including Pittsburgh, Toronto, Amsterdam and Mumbai. Movement was previously available in Bogota, Boston, Cincinnati, Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa, London, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney and Washington.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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