Mapping city travel
Sidewalk Labs has launched Replica to make location data available to city planners. The smart city outfit, which is owned by Alphabet, leans on anonymised mobile location data to give planning agencies a broad picture of how, when, and why people travel in urban areas.
The company says Replica serves up a full set of baseline travel measures that are currently pretty hard to gather and maintain. Included in the data are the total number of people on a highway or local street network, their mode of transport (car, transit, bike, or foot), and their trip purpose (commuting to work, going shopping, heading to school, etc).
Replica is updated every three months and so has the ability to detect changes in measures over time to help planners understand transportation from a regional level down to a city block.
“In Replica, workers go to work and families go out to dinner,” says Nick Bowden, product lead at Sidewalk Labs. “Roads are congested at rush hour, downtown sidewalks are busy at lunchtime, and bike paths are full after school. People travel in taxis, on foot, and in carpools. These movements are faithful to real-world activities but not traceable to actual people or specific trips.”
He adds, “Planners can use this virtual world to help them make decisions about, and the study the impacts of, transportation or land use — without compromising individual privacy.”
Image: Sidewalk Labs