Uber Shares London Ride Data to Aid Urban Planning

The company wants to get back in the London officials' good graces.

Uber is releasing its London ride-hailing data to help urban planners in the British capital. The company has released data to several U.S. cities as well as Paris under its Uber Movement initiative, but the addition of London comes as the company negotiates with officials to regain its license to operate in the city.

Uber is using a series of Medium posts to demonstrate the utility of its London ride data. In one post, it said the data could be used to determine the impact of the 2016 Tower Bridge closure on traffic, and inform planning for similar infrastructure projects in the future. The data can be used to compare traffic conditions at “different times of the day, days of the week, or months of the year,” Uber said.

This is an important time for Uber to prove its usefulness to London officials. The city’s transportation agency declined to renew Uber’s operator license when it expired last year, citing concerns over Uber’s policies for background checks and reporting crimes committed by its drivers. Uber appealed the decision, and gets to continue operating in London while the appeals process is ongoing.

Releasing its data as a tool for urban planning could help smooth things over with London officials, but it’s also important because it shows that Uber’s data-collection policies have a positive goal. Data collection is always going to be a controversial subject, especially when Uber’s ability to protect customers’ privacy is unclear. Turning over data to cities shows that collecting it can be beneficial to the general public and not just the company.