Our Next Trillion Miles

Our story began in a traffic jam.

From that moment, we’ve been inspired as a team to make it as easy to navigate the real world as our web world. Earlier, we had worked on making the web faster, better and more personalized. We sensed an opportunity to apply those lessons to the world we live in, and make urban living better. With the rapid growth in sensors (GPS, beacons, etc.) on smartphones and cars and transit, we are now truly in the age of Internet of Moving Things. The potential to improve the lives of millions of commuters, by learning from commuting behavior patterns, reshaping congestion and creating new consumer services in each minute-mile is incredible. In fact, we have an opportunity to create an urban OS -- an intelligent software overlay for our real world.

One fundamental challenge is how to piece together a high-fidelity, real-time ‘pulse’ at a city-wide scale, from this new kind of anonymized, aggregated space/time data (e.g, location and timestamps). For us CS geeks, space/time data is a new ‘data type’ with exciting new scaling and algorithmic challenges. Over the past few years, we created Warp -- a powerful, new space/time engine that stitches together millions of commuters and vehicles with special algorithms and cloud power. For example, how to reconstruct the flow of millions of commuters each day, how to analyze and learn from hotspots from this data at a large scale, and optimize trade-offs in “what if scenarios” using large-scale emulations of real-world systems (like in SimCity).

Figure 1. Pulse of a city

Over the past few years, it’s been our privilege serving and learning from customers across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East -- innovative partners at Mayoral Offices and Ministries at ‘smart cities’ to leaders in global transportation, each with a common desire to improve the commuting experiences of millions of people each day and make urban infrastructure more efficient. To date, our space-time engine has already analyzed billions of trips and improved the lives of millions of commuters.

Today, we’re excited to share the next phase of our journey -- Urban Engines is now a part of the Google Maps team! Location analytics is an important focus for both Urban Engines and Google, and we’re excited to combine forces to help organizations better understand how the world moves. There’s a lot we look forward to building together, and we can’t wait to show you what’s next.

We are truly grateful to our customers, users, partners, investors and advisors that joined us to go after a very challenging problem. Our journey to make the next trillion miles faster and better has just begun...