Uber has launched a new website that at first glance seems counterintuitive to its cause, but when looked at more closely, it may be a masterful play by the rideshare giant.
‘Movement,’ is a website designed for – of all people – city planners and designers, to understand traffic movement, cycles and changes in more detail. By tracking the movements of Uber vehicles, the company claims to be able to provide a valuable resource, not only for future development but also short-term planning, traffic management and even gauging the direction of urban sprawl. Importantly, the system will only track vehicle movements, not storing information, or tracking the drivers as individuals, creating anonymous information on groups instead.
This new attempt at partnership, comes on the back of numerous lawsuits, bannings, protests and wars-of-words with local governments and civil authorities around the world, who see Uber as either an illegal business – running without the required local regulatory requirements – or destructive to local taxi businesses, many of whom have seen their profits decimated since the advent of rideshare as a mainstream product. However, this tactic of taking the high road – especially when combined with Uber’s other add-ons, such as city information, and events resources – may be just what the doctor ordered in terms of ingratiating themselves, and adding additional value to local communities, removing the ‘outlaw,’ tag that many had given them.
It’s also important to note that Uber is no longer perceived as a ‘rugged start-up,’ and as a result is doing its best to take some social responsibility, improving the cities in which it inhabits, rather than fighting the government or empowering Uber drivers to make a bit more money on the side.
As Uber’s competition grows, its reputation will be critical in order to sustain meteoric growth, even in the face of competitors similar to itself – Uber is now the Microsoft of rideshare, a title it seems eager to hold on to; but this opens the door for smaller start-ups, styled as Uber used to be, disrupting the disruptor.