WhereIsMyTransport believes in the positive impact digitalisation can have in emerging-market megacities — places that are asset-rich, but information-poor. Finding your way through a city’s web of public transport routes can be an insurmountable obstacle for many at the best of times, but especially when journeys don’t go to plan.
Our mission is to make the invisible visible, producing mobility data from the Majority World’s public transport networks — whether operating flexibly, or following fixed routes and timetables — and serving as a central source of that data for commuters, businesses, and institutions.
Our CEO, Devin de Vries, co-founded WhereIsMyTransport on the premise that technology can bridge the gap between assets and information. He recently spoke to City Monitor about how we supported Google with data from Mexico City’s colectivos.
“There is an opportunity to bring digitalisation into an ecosystem in a way that can have a positive impact.” — Devin de Vries
Mexico City has recently faced two crises that demonstrated the importance of reliable network disruption information for commuters, as well as understanding how flexible public transport modes respond during challenging periods. In May, the collapse of a Metro line overpass cost lives and impacted network operations. In January, a fire in the Metro control centre shut down two train lines, impacting two million commuters.
Mexico City’s Secretaría de Movilidad put out a call for mobility platforms, such as Google Maps, to offer alternative routes that would save time and avoid crowding vehicles — of particular importance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using mobility data from WhereIsMyTransport, Google Maps added information on the vast network of informal providers, who together make up a system that is over ten times the size of the formal bus and metro network.
Informal transport has long been part of the mobility ground truth for most of the world’s cities. Our data makes this network information visible so that commuters know the full range of mobility options available to them, whether in an emergency — as was the case in Mexico City — or in the course of daily life.