At WhereIsMyTransport, we are a technology company that does not simply aggregate information — we produce entirely new mobility data. For cities in the Majority World, we create comprehensive data sets of public transport environments from scratch, starting with the truth on the ground.
Our work requires a combination of proprietary tools and processes, but that work is worth the effort. For commuters using our Android app Rumbo, the advantage is clear. Our mobility data means that, for the first time, passengers can see their journey alternatives, cutting down on commute times, and improving their public transport experience.
However, complete public transport data has value that goes beyond commuters. In an article for ReadWrite, Devin de Vries, our CEO, recently wrote about how businesses have extracted value from our mobility data, and the opportunities in mobility data more broadly.
Business uses fall into a few categories. First, infrastructure planning firms, research organisations, and banks use cutting-edge data sources to make smarter decisions. The World Bank engaged WhereIsMyTransport to provide comprehensive public transport network data for multiple African cities, and used that data to inform their investments.
Second, investors use mobility data as an indicator of economic trends. “Alternative data” sources go beyond stock prices or inflation numbers, giving financiers a glimpse into the real economy. Mobility has emerged as a key part of this economy, since it can’t be fudged — people’s day-to-day movements provide hard evidence of economic activity (or not).
Finally, businesses broadly benefit from knowing where their customers — or potential customers — travel every day. Just as governments want to know what type of street reforms attract people, companies want to invest in the right neighbourhoods, selecting sites with untapped opportunities. One study of business relocation choices in the Netherlands found that when moving, firms were — unsurprisingly — apt to choose premises near highways and public transport links. In megacities of the Majority World, we have been largely blind as to where public transport links actually are. A substantial amount of public transport is informal, and was largely invisible before WhereIsMyTransport.
Our mission is to make these networks visible for the first time. As recently as five years ago, building comprehensive data sets with this information was impossible at a large scale. Now, with purpose-built software and hyperlocal expertise, it’s scalable to every city in the Majority World.