Google Maps acquires city traffic data analytics startup, Urban Engines

Urban Engines, a data analytics platform for tracking the flow of people and vehicles in urban areas, has just been acquired by Google Maps.

Urban Engines is a data analytics startup that focuses on tracking the movement of people and vehicles in urban areas, and churning that data into actionable insights to improve mobility. Urban Engines products use some of the same techniques available to make navigating the web faster, and more personalised, to real world cities. The movements of vehicles and people are tracked, and the flow of traffic analysed.

This can be used by corporations to plan better trips, by city planners to anticipate and prepare for heavy traffic events, and by consumers to intelligently plan routes. Urban Engines products can also handle what if scenarios, where different flows and traffic patterns are emulated based on known data. This is a realistic, and more advanced form of traffic modelling as seen in the city building game, Sim City.

Image: Urban Engines

Image: Urban Engines

Data sets used can include past trips, as well as real time data. The Space/Time data is handled by a custom engine called Warp. There is even an operating system, an intelligent software overlay for the real world, called Urban OS. The analytics allows for creation of new products to services,  as well as methods to decongest crowded urban areas. All of this functionality will be available to Google Maps, according to a blog post announcing the acquisition.


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