Open Traffic Data to Revolutionize Transport

World Bank: “Congestion in metropolitan Manila costs the economy more than $60 million per day, and it is not atypical to spend more than 2 hours to travel 8 km during the evening commute there. But beyond these statistics, until recently, very little was actually known about Manila’s congestion, because the equipment and manpower required to collect traffic data has far exceeded available resources. Most cities in developing countries face similar issues.

Traditional methods of collecting traffic data rely either on labor-intensive fieldwork or capital-intensive sensor data networks. The former is slow and results in low-quality data, and the latter requires substantial capital and maintenance outlays, while only covering a small portion of a metropolitan area. In the era of big data, shouldn’t we be able to do better?

Responding to this need, Easy Taxi, Grab, and Le.Taxi, three ridesharing  companies—which, combined, cover more than 30 countries and millions of customers—are working with the World Bank and partners to make traffic data derived from their drivers’ GPS streams available to public through an open data license. Through the new Open Transport Partnership, these companies, along with founding members Mapzen, the World Resources Institute, Miovision, and NDrive, will empower resource-constrained transport agencies to make better, evidence-based decisions that previously had been out of reach.

Issues that this data will help address include, among others, traffic signal timing plans, public transit provision, roadway infrastructure needs, emergency traffic management, and travel demand management. According to Alyssa Wright, president of the US Open Street Map Foundation, the partnership “seeks to improve the efficiency and efficacy of global transportation use and provision through open data and capacity building.” …(More)

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