“Data is the New Oil", Urban Mobility Forum 2018 Recap

Published: January 31, 2018

When the conference panel is titled “Data is the New Oil,” who better to lead the discussion than Moovit Co-founder and CEO Nir Erez? Nir spoke today at the Urban Mobility Forum 2018 powered by BMW i Ventures at Alfred Lerner Hall in New York. Bloomberg News Reporter Gabrielle Coppola moderated the panel, which included New York State Deputy Secretary for Transportation Ali Chaudhry and fleet software company Stratim’s CEO Sean Behn.  

Nir described how Moovit has amassed the world’s largest transit database with more than one billion data points added every day by users of Moovit’s app. Moovit has transformed its data into the Smart Transit Suite to help cities, municipalities and transit agencies around the world better manage their systems, operations and fleets.

Nir gave a nod to Moovit’s community of 250,000 local editors who we call Mooviters. “These volunteers give us data from their city that no one else has.”  That information goes right back to benefit the city as Moovit’s app gives the most accurate transit information of any transit app.

When the inevitable question about protecting user privacy came up, Nir was ready: “Moovit’s data is anonymous,” he said. Moovit does not know users’ names, gender, income, address or even phone number. The only information Moovit collects from its users is where they start and end their ride on transit using Moovit. “We don’t do any direct transaction with our users so there is no need to collect any personal identifiable information,” Nir said.

Coppola asked how Moovit helps cities and transit agencies be more efficient and save costs. Nir gave the example of how the company improves transit agencies’ research. Whereas an agency’s user survey can take months or even years to implement, Moovit can provide statistically significant findings in a matter of hours. Further, transit agencies know only when riders get on and off the bus or enter and exit its gates. But they don’t know where those riders start or finish their journey. Moovit knows its users’ total journeys, and that information is invaluable for any transit agency planning new lines or routes.

Following the panel discussion, an attendee asked Nir whether it’s important for governments and the private sector to collaborate. “Governments can’t be expected to mine data and create the tools that private companies can,” Nir said. “And private companies cannot legislate or regulate in the public’s best interest.” He gave the example of Moovit’s partnership with the City of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. “For weeks, Moovit engineers worked side-by-side with Rio city officials to re-route 2,000 bus lines the Games. Of everything you heard about the Rio Olympics, you never heard about any problems with getting around the city.”

The full-day conference included a cross section urban mobility investors, innovators and government officials. It was hosted by BMW i Ventures, one of Moovit’s investors.

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