Uber Expands Smart City Initiatives, Launching A ‘Mobility Lab’ In Cincinnati

As smart cities become a reality, the ridesharing pioneer is furthering its shared mobility ambitions.

Uber has partnered with the city of Cincinnati to launch its “Cincinnati Mobility Lab,” a move aimed at expanding its shared mobility initiatives and using data to make transport in cities more efficient.

With other entities like Dallas Group expanding its smart city programs with major brands like AT&T and Toyota, it’s a decision that makes sense: Connectivity and shared mobility in urban centers is becoming a reality — creating substantial opportunities for citizens as well as marketers. And per Uber’s statement, the company hopes that this long term partnership will “serve as a model for others.”

What does the move entail? For starters, expanding Uber’s data sharing platform, Uber Movement, in Cincinnati; launching a transit study in with local transit agencies TANK and SORTA; and exploring the “curb of the future” by using data to improve urban movement and keep ridesharing vehicles from getting stuck behind double-parked cars.

But expect the company to further its work on autonomous vehicles and connected tech in cities as well: As Uber said in a statement, “technology on its own is not a solution for urban problems — but done right, and in partnership with others, we believe shared mobility has the potential to contribute to a better world for all.”

A Smarter City

As we’ve written previously, over the past year, the Smart Cities concept has gone from theoretical to practical, as tech startups and enterprise companies have combined to focus on municipal and regional efforts from New York to San Francisco that promise to expand the use of connected street furniture, support for electric cars, and placing sensors in public transportation to develop safer traffic condition.

Even smaller cities, such as Providence, RI, which began partnering with hyperlocal tech company Loud-Hailer to launch its “Connected City” app, Providence2GO in November, have been moving more rapidly on Smart Cities programs.

Expect Uber to continue to make major plays in this space: As the largest ridesharing entity at present, improving the efficiency of ridesharing and shared mobility as a whole is clearly in its best interests.

And expect to see the proliferation of the “smart city” to create new opportunities for marketers along the way: As Loom Media CEO Jonathan Schulhof told GeoMarketing last month, branding initiatives in this space are already emerging.

“Some of the things we’re thinking about: We believe that the growing influx of electric vehicles requires an infrastructure for charging those vehicles — and we see companies providing electric vehicle charging as an amenity, which is a great way [for brands] to play in this space. We recently partnered with a company called Volta that does exactly that: They put out a free electric vehicle charging spot with a digital screen that brands can leverage,” Schulhof said.

“We also look at community experiences within the city, and analyze how they could be done better using digital technologies. One area we’re fascinated by is innovations in food and in food markets — specifically farmers markets, the ultimate emblem of the livable city. This can also involve delivering workforce development and educational programs.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.