Tag Archives: travel
Quantified Self Labs is dedicated to the idea that data access matters. Moving forward, we’re going to be exploring different aspects of how data access affects our personal and public lives. Stay tuned to our QS Access channel for more news, thoughts, and insights.
On January 13th Uber, a wildly popular and often scrutinized ride share company, announced they have entered into an agreement with the City of Boston to share anonymized data generated by users of the service. This is the first partnership between Uber and a local government body, but points to the ability to potentially partner with cities that want to take a peak at the vast amount of data about when and where people are traveling within their municipality. Our first reaction to this was to explore if Uber has provided any method for it’s own users to access and export their trip data. Surely if they can able to export and pass along data to a third party, they can pass that data to their own users?
In our exploration of the mobile and web user platforms we found that Uber currently does not offer users with an easy way to access their data. As an Uber customer, you are provided with email receipts of your trips that include travel information, a route of the ride, and cost. This information is also available through their online user account page. However, it is not exportable and accessible in a method that allows individuals to store information in a consistent and machine readable format (such as a csv file). In our search for methods to assist in exporting Uber ride data, I stumbled upon this data scraper on Github developed by Josh Hunt. It’s useful to know that Uber has a standard no scraping clause in in it’s Terms of Service, but individual users accessing their own data for their own reasons is probably not what these clauses are meant to protect.
Aside from data access issues there is of course open questions about how Uber will implement privacy protections governing sensitive user data. Of course, Uber is not without fault in this space. The now infamous blog post pointing to their ability to track one-night stands (archived here) was enough for some users to question ethical standards within Uber. In their announcement, Uber touched on this issue by stating that they will provide some privacy protections by only offering anonymized aggregated data to third party partners. Protecting user privacy through data aggregation and anonymization is a step in the right direction, but there remain these open issues around data access for users. Uber and the cities they partner with will learn a lot about how we travel, but the partnership between Uber and their users could be improved by helping users (myself included) understand their own data and behavior by allowing easier access to the data we contribute when we use the service.
We’re interested to hear from our readers about their experiences using the above mentioned tool, or similar tools to access and export their Uber trip data. Please let us know. We’ve also reached out to Uber for comment.
I reached out to Uber Support over Twitter and received the following response:
“Unfortunately this is not currently a feature, however we’re always looking to improve and I’ll pass your suggestion along! *NM” (link)
Jamie Aspinall was interested in what his location history could tell him. As a Google Location user, his smartphone is constantly pinging his GPS and sending that data back to his Google profile. Using Google Takeout Jamie was able to download the last four years of his location history, which represented about 600,000 data points. In this talk, presented at the London QS meetup group, Jamie describes his process of using a variety of visualizations and analysis techniques to learn about where he goes, what causes differences in his commute times, and other interesting patterns hidden in location data.
You can also view his presentation here.
“If I look at this, I have these memories, and I remember this was a good year.”
Collect it and forget it. This could be be hidden mantra of many people engaged with self-tracking, myself included. I will readily admit to buying a device or application with the hope that I can collect enough information to generate a grand insight at some mythical point in the future where the intersection of free time, analytical knowledge, and sample size magically coalesce. Ulrich Atz encountered the same problem. He was tracking, but soon lost sight of the purpose. Rather than giving up he started a new tracking project.
Ulrich started by building on the popular habit and tracking theory, Don’t Break the Chain, based on consistency in behaviors you care about. He identified six major categories he wanted to understand and pay attention to: his evening ritual, fitness, nutrition, learning, sleep, and travel. Rather than using an passive tracking system like Foursquare of Sleep Cycle, he decided to keep track of it by writing on a large wall calendar. In this presentation, given at the London QS meetup group, Ulrich describes his methods and what he learned from this year-long process.
Where are you? A pretty easy question to answer. But, what about, “Where was I?” Not so easy to answer, especially when we start talking about periods of time more than a few days or weeks. Sure, we all have GPS running on our phones now. We can check in with Foursquare/Facebook/Path etc. to keep a log of locations, but that data is fragmented and only represents certain specific locations. What about paths? What would we learn if we knew more about how we traveled about our world?
Aaron Parecki is one of the founders of Geoloqi, a location-based services platform. He has also been tracking his location every 6 seconds for the last four years and he has created some amazing visualizations to better understand his movement:
You may think this is just a boring old map with some travel data layered on top, but what makes this map special is that there is no underlying geospatial data. The lines you see above are Aaron’s actual travel paths from his GPS data. Using this information you can easily see the well traveled roadways by finding the thicker lines. You can even quickly pick out freeways and interstates due to their high speed.
Aaron has a lot more visualizations of his GPS traces, but I’ll leave you with this neat video showing a timelapse of his minute-by-minute movement:
Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.
This is a guest post from Jerry Jariyasunant:
Hi! I’m a graduate student at UC Berkeley in Systems Engineering and I’m part of a team interested in learning about travel behavior. We’re interested in how people get around and seeing how aware people are about their travel habits compared with their peers, and their impact on the environment.
We’ve designed a system that tracks your transportation habits with your smartphone and gives you feedback about how you travel on a website.
If you are interested in participating in our study, are at least 18 years of age, and have a Android phone we would love for you to sign up for our 2 week study! Email me at email@example.com and I will send you an invite to the app, and a link to a webpage where you can see your personal transportation stats. You will be asked to take a quick 5-10 minute before the study starts, and another quick 5-10 minute survey after the 2 week study ends.
If you participate in the study, keep the Android app running for the entire 2 week period, and complete the two surveys, you will be entered into a raffle to donate $2,500 to the charity of your choice!
Once again, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate in the study. Thank you!