Uber's smart-city contribution: public transit boost and carpools-on-demand

Staff writer
01 Jun 2016

Uber isn’t just about giving people rides - it also wants to play a “small but important role” in the development of future smart cities.

Speaking during a ‘Smart Cities’ track at the CommuniucAsia2016 Summit on Tuesday, Chan Park, Uber’s managing director of Southeast Asia, said Uber helps cut traffic congestion and associated pollution while creating economic opportunities for part-time drivers and improving safety. He bolstered his claims with data taken from Uber and third-party research firms.

“In Singapore, 29% of our business begins or ends near a public transit stop,” said Chan. “We connect the ‘last-mile’: the door-to-MRT or bus stop. This helps drive greater adoption of public transit.”

Chan added that Uber improves safety by reducing the number of drunk drivers on the roads after public transportation shifts to little or no service at night. In Thailand, for example, 26% of road deaths in Thailand are related to drunk driving.

The transport firm’s latest product, uberPOOL, uses analytics to determine users’ traffic patterns to create a “carpool-on-demand” service. Chan said that while the service is less than a year old, users have taken to it and “globally, about 140,000 fewer kilometers have been driven in the last four months.”

During the same Smart Cities session, Prakash Mally, managing director of Southeast Asia for Intel, said: “In any big city, 30% of traffic jams are caused by people looking for parking.”

Mally also called for open standards for the Internet of Things. “Moore’s Law drove our company for 40 years,” he said. “We believe the IoT is the next level, especially in areas like smart cities.”

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