The World Bank Launches New Open Transport Partnership to Improve Transportation through Open Data

December 19, 2016

Easy Taxi, Grab, Le.Taxi, Mapzen, Miovision, NDrive, and the World Resources Institute
Join to Mitigate Traffic Congestion in Developing Countries

WASHINGTON, December 19, 2016 — Easy Taxi, Grab, and Le.Taxi –three ridesharing companies that, combined, cover more than 30 countries and millions of people – have joined a partnership with the World Bank and other organizations to make traffic data derived from their drivers’ GPS streams open to the world, under an open data license. The collaboration will empower resource-constrained transport agencies to develop better, evidence-based solutions to traffic and road safety challenges. Through the new World Bank-led Open Transport Partnership, these companies, along with founding members Mapzen, the World Resources Institute, MiovisionNDrive, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials hope to upend the way big data companies collaborate with governments for the public good. The Open Transport Partnership builds upon the success of Open Traffic, the pilot program launched in the Philippines in April, 2016.

In the metropolitan area of Manila, congestion costs the economy more than 60 million USD per day and it is not atypical for most residents to spend over two hours traveling just eight kilometers during the evening commute. Other cities face similar challenges. However, traditional methods for collecting traffic data needed to address congestion are costly and rely either on labor-intensive field work or capital-intensive sensor data networks that far exceed available resources.

In the Philippines, the World Bank collaborated with Grab, with support from the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund, to develop an open-source platform for using anonymized GPS data generated by more than 500,000 Grab drivers to analyze traffic congestion peak patterns and travel times. With this platform, city governments across the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries will finally be able to answer fundamental questions necessary to address safety and congestion. The success of this pilot will be replicated in other countries through the Open Transport Partnership, including Malaysia, Brazil, and Colombia.

“This is the first scalable open-source program of its kind. We want to empower lower income countries to leapfrog a stage in their ITS development -- and hopefully, support better transport outcomes in advanced economies as well,” said Holly Krambeck, World Bank Senior Transportation Specialist.

“Grab is excited to join the Open Transport Partnership and expand on the success of our OpenTraffic pilot programme in Southeast Asia. It takes a long term commitment to solve traffic congestion, particularly as public transport infrastructure in Southeast Asia is still developing to meet the needs of its growing urban population. These collaborations reflect Grab's commitment to working hand-in-hand with governments to enable drivers and commuters to travel efficiently and safely,” said Anthony Tan, Group CEO & Co-founder, Grab.

“Mapzen is looking forward to working on the Open Traffic platform to enable access to this critical dataset. Through this collaboration, we can expect to see many dramatic changes in real-time routing services both for the public and private sectors,” said Randy Meech, CEO of Mapzen.

“As the largest taxi hailing app across Latin America, we view the Foundation as an important next step in powering the future of an open market for transport services,” said Jorge Pilo, CEO of Easy Taxi. “As a founding data partner, Easy Taxi is committed to using our access to insightful traffic data for the global public good.”

“Traffic congestion and poorly-performing streets are an issue in every city,” said Linda Bailey, Executive Director of the North American-based National Association of City Transportation Officials. “Access to high-quality trip data is a substantial hurdle to our member cities in making informed decisions on transportation infrastructure and policy, especially in light of the quickly changing dynamics in transport service provision. The Open Transport Partnership will provide cities with the much-needed tools to understand traffic patterns and plan for better mobility.”

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Xavier Muller
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