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Data Center Spotlight Shines on Uber

By: DuPont Fabros Technology | March 08, 2017

With the fast-paced tech start-up landscape in mind, we’re looking at one of the largest, most valuable tech companies to understand how Uber can maintain its competitive edge using big data. With a valuation of over $60 billion and a vast amount of data that provides invaluable insights for several industries, Uber is a leader when it comes to innovation.  And that innovation is fueled by the big data processing available in its data centers.

In addition to leveraging big data to continually improve the rider experience, Uber is bringing necessary infrastructure improvements across the globe to light. Here are just a handful of the ways its data is addressing everyday challenges for its drivers and riders, as well as larger hurdles for municipal and state governments.

The Silver Lining of Sitting in Rush Hour
Uber recently created a tool with information that could change city infrastructure approaches while still protecting its users’ privacy with anonymized data. The new product, Uber Movement, is completely free and will be available to anyone interested in tracking car travel between two points in a city at any time of day.

The data produced from the time spent sitting in rush hour traffic can now be used for something productive. Uber is harnessing this data to produce traffic patterns that help shape future city planning choices. While Movement data is currently only available for Manila, Melbourne and Washington, D.C., Uber is working with urban planners and transportation professionals to expand to dozens of other cities in the coming months.

Ultimately, Uber and its transportation partners will be able to leverage big data-powered insights and analytics about traffic patterns in major cities around the world through Movement. This means city planners will be able to make more informed decisions for their city’s infrastructure.  Because Uber has been able to cultivate so much travel data over the last few years, cities will now be able to reap the benefits in the form of more educated infrastructure decision-making.

Better Mapping Data Means Smoother Travel
With GPS and mapping technology at the core of Uber’s success, Uber is taking large strides in improving its mapping abilities for drivers. Uber’s Director of Product, Manik Gupta, elaborated on a new effort to sharpen Uber’s mapping technology in Singapore by focusing on information that matters to Uber drivers, such as traffic patterns and sensible pick-up and drop-off locations for riders.

Gupta explains, “We need to be able to provide a seamless experience in parts of the world where there aren’t detailed maps — or street signs.” To do this, Uber installed mapping devices on some of the drivers’ cars in Singapore, mainly so it can utilize resources it already has on the road. These devices capture important imagery along routes that are not as well-documented, yet Uber assures users with privacy concerns that imagery immediately around the drop-off and pick-up locations will not be retained.

This technology is already being used in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia to provide the best routes possible for riders. This newest initiative in Singapore will be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Uber fully intends to continue expanding these efforts, gathering countless mapping data points to offer truly seamless travel experiences for riders world-wide.

Personalization Meets Carpool
While Uber is creating big data from approximately one million rides per day, a good portion of those riders are using UberPool, a feature within the app that enables users in large cities to split their Uber ride with other users traveling in the same vicinity. Uber is aware of the sometimes-uncomfortable nature of these rides and is looking to address it with its newest patent application.

According to CNN Money, Uber is planning to use social media data to match UberPool riders that have similar interests or backgrounds in an effort to make rides more enjoyable. By making this feature more appealing and reducing the awkward factor of riding with a stranger, Uber hopes to see a substantial reduction in city traffic over time.

All the data we choose to share across social platforms could be used to make true ride-sharing a viable commuting option. If the rider match is compatible, it could even serve as a catalyst for more casual networking. This is just another example of leveraging data to make everyday interactions run smoothly.

These strategic initiatives from Uber speak to the company’s breadth and depth in terms of data accessibility. Companies today have rich data that offer meaningful insights. For this reason, powerful and resilient data centers for big data are crucial to their success. The value in companies like Uber extends beyond their ability to solve everyday problems for its users. Its data also presents beneficial trends that can be applied to several other industries, so the ability to effectively house and protect that data is crucial.  

As companies like Uber grow and implement data-driven initiatives, they face several IT decisions. One such decision lies at the heart of their IT infrastructure, including the use of data centers. To learn how one company’s choice to outsource their data center requirements helped drive customer and revenue growth, download the case study HERE.

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