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When it comes to better understanding the transportation needs of cities in South Africa, a lot of importance needs to be placed on developing solutions that will make cities more efficient. With the growing issue of congestion, especially in Cape Town, cities can make use of technology to create a sustainable option to drive transportation systems. With that being said, Uber was proud to have officially launched Uber Movement in Cape Town this week at the Launch lab at Stellenbosch University.

First launched in August 2017 in Johannesburg and Tshwane, Movement, a free public website, addresses specific problems faced by urban planners, city staff, and the civic community.  Uber Movement shows travel times across zones in a city derived from data from the billions of rides that riders have taken with Uber, anonymized and aggregated into zones covering the standard boundaries used by urban planners. The privacy of both riders and driver-partners has been upheld by ensuring that the data is anonymous and aggregated and cannot be used to access any personally identifiable information or user behavior. The introduction of Movement data is extremely important for community members, city and transport planners as it will provide them with a more improved data-driven transportation policy that will effectively show them where investments in transportation infrastructure should be made in their cities.

Head of Public Policy Uber South Africa, Yolisa Kani says, “The launch of Movement has successfully demonstrated Uber’s continued support and commitment to its cities and communities. This tool was designed to effectively evaluate where cities can make investments in transportation infrastructure using real time data. The Machine Learning hackathon allowed data scientists to put  this tool to the test and provided them with a realistic demonstration of how the Movement data tool will work. It has been amazing to witness what this tool will do for the city of Cape Town. With data at our fingertips, we hope to see that Cape Town will have a more reliable and efficient mode of transportation.”

Earlier this month, with the support of Zindi, Uber hosted a one day Machine Learning Hackathon at the Stellenbosch Launch Lab. The hackathon saw young data scientists in South Africa, come together in teams to build machine learning models using SANRAL data from the traffic command center and Uber movement data to solve traffic related issues in the Western Cape. 

At the launch event, Zindi CEO, Celina Lee led, Data Saiyans, the team that took top honours at the Machine Learning Hackathon, on presenting their winning strategy on how they used the data provided to them to best predict the probability of when an incident would occur. From the pool of data provided the young scientists used factors such as weather conditions, structures of the roads, occurrence and frequency of accidents to best solve their challenge.

Siphesihle Yapi, member of the winning hackathon team adds, “Through these innovative solutions we are able to improve the townships in which we reside in to help them become smarter and ultimately enhance road safety.“ To date with their skills the young scientists have provided solutions to solve water as well as network connectivity issues in the various townships they live in Cape Town and hope to do more in the future.

The future of urban mobility is constantly changing and developing. With the countless challenges faced by city planners in Cape Town, access to Uber Movement can play a crucial role in tackling some of these issues by informing decisions about how to best adapt to existing infrastructure and invest in future solutions that will make cities more efficient and address congestion issues.