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Meet Replica

Sidewalk Labs is currently building out a platform called Replica that will support them in their development plans here in Toronto. Replica is

“a user-friendly modeling tool that uses anonymized mobile location data to give planning agencies a comprehensive portrait of how, when, and why people travel in urban areas.”

Here is a preview of the Replica dashboard showing a section of Main Street in Kansas City. I hope the animated GIF shows up for you.

The platform uses a combination of mobile location data (~5% of the population) and on-the-ground checks, typical stuff like manual traffic counts and transit boardings.

The goal is to understand in real-time who is using a street, as well as how (driving? cycling?) and why (going to work?).

Their introductory blog post obviously stresses the importance of personal privacy, but I am curious how they determine where people are going.

I suppose if they pair journeys with destinations (and the durations at those destinations) they can make reasonable assumptions around the why.

I think the benefits to all of this are clear. But does any or all of this worry you from a privacy standpoint?

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