Uber Joins Urban Computing Foundation, Contributes Kepler.gl as Organization’s First Hosted Project

Urban computing, a discipline that connects engineering, analysis, and visualization of data to improve safety, road infrastructure, equitable access to transportation, energy consumption, and traffic congestion in cities, is integral to Uber’s vision for safer, smarter cities. From developing open source data visualization tools like deck.gl, Kepler.gl, and AVS to sharing insights about traffic, speed, and new mobilities through Uber Movement, we are committed to collaborating with partners to improve mobility in urban environments.

Kepler.gl visualizes the relationship between speeding behavior and crashes in Manhattan. Data from Uber Movement Speeds and NYC Open Data.

 

To further this commitment, today we are joining the Urban Computing Foundation (UCF), an organization dedicated to accelerating the open development of software that improves urban mobility, transportation, safety, and infrastructure. As a co-founder of the UCF, Uber will serve on the Technical Advisory Committee and help the organization create and maintain a neutral framework and open ecosystem of tools and resources for developers to build the next generation of urban planning technologies.

“During moments of both technology disruption and opportunity, open development is critical for enabling interoperability and speeding adoption,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “The Urban Computing Foundation is poised to provide the compatibility tools and resources for developers to create software that can map out and operate technology services in any given urban area, ensuring safety and equitable access to transportation.”

“As a founding member of the Urban Computing Foundation, Uber is honored to contribute Kepler.gl as the initiative’s first official project,” said Travis Gorkin, Uber Data Visualization Lead and Urban Computing Foundation TAC member. “Technologies like Kepler.gl have the capacity to advance urban planning, helping policymakers and local governments gain insights enabling them to increase mobility and safety in cities.”

In addition to joining the foundation, Uber is contributing the foundation’s first project: Kepler.gl. Open sourced in 2018 by engineer Shan He and Uber’s Data Visualization team, Kepler.gl makes digital map creation easier and more accessible for users of all backgrounds and skill levels by offering a customizable toolbox capable of generating geo-spatial visualization from massive data sets.

Kepler.gl is built on top of deck.gl, a WebGL-powered data visualization library, and react-map-gl, a React wrapper for Mapbox-gl, both of which are included in the open source Vis.gl suite developed in-house by Uber‘s Data Visualization team.

Showing geospatial data in a single web interface, Kepler.gl helps users quickly glean insights from data visualizations. Using Kepler.gl, a user can drag and drop a CSV or GeoJSON file into the browser, visualize it with different map layers, explore it by filtering and aggregating it, and eventually export the final visualization as a static map or an animated video. Instead of spanning multiple browsers and consuming weeks of work at a time, Kepler.gl places the entire design process in one user interface and can take as little as 10 minutes. In addition to Uber, Kepler.gl is used by teams at Airbnb, Atkins Global, CitySwifter, HERE Technologies, Lime, Mapbox, Sidewalk Labs, and Ubilabs, among others.

“By collaborating with organizations through the Urban Computing Foundation, Uber can help create an open ecosystem to improve the health, environment, and safety of cities and their communities,” said Brian Hsieh, Uber Head of Open Source. “We look forward to working together to grow the foundation and encourage the further development of this community.”

Learn more about the Urban Computing Foundation and Kepler.gl. Read how this initiative furthers our commitment to building safer, smarter cities on Under the Hood, Uber’s policy blog. 

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