About 9 months ago I wrote about a new startup called Urban Engines that was trying to improve urban mobility by using big data to optimize transit usage.
Last Tuesday the app launched in 10 cities across North America. So if you’re in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, or Washington D.C., you can go ahead and download it right now.
The biggest “wow factor” is probably the augmented reality feature that allows you to hold your phone up and see transit information overlaid on top of the street in front of you.
But more fundamentally, the real potential lies in the platform’s ability to collect data on the way people move in cities and on how transit lines are performing, so that it can be fed back to improve overall efficiency.
That’s why the company is also working with cities to give them 24/7 analytics and reporting on how every bus, car, and train is performing in their networks.
My hope is that with better data at our disposal, we’ll be able to elevate the discussions around transit and transit planning. Without great data, it’s too easy for these discussion to become political.