Uber, Google, IBM, and others join Urban Computing Foundation to create tools for ‘cities of tomorrow’

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The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit technology consortium that supports Linux’s growth, standardization, and commercial adoption, today announced a new industry-wide effort to create a common set of software required to “support the cities of tomorrow.” The freshly minted Urban Computing Foundation will offer a forum for developers to build open source tools that connect cities, autonomous vehicles, and smart infrastructure, and that target ongoing challenges in multimodal transportation and civil engineering.

Initial contributors include developers from Uber, Facebook, Google, Here Technologies, and IBM, as well as Interline Technologies, Senseable City Labs, StreetCred Labs, and the University of California San Diego.

“As a founding participant with the Urban Computing Foundation, Uber is honored to contribute Kepler.gl as the initiative’s first official project,” said Travis Gorkin, Uber data visualization lead. “Technologies like Kepler.gl have the capacity to advance urban planning by helping policymakers and local governments gain critical insights and better understand data about their cities.”

According to Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, the Foundation will adopt an open governance model developed by the Technical Advisory Council (TAC), which will include “technical and IP stakeholders” in urban computing who’ll guide its work through projects by review and curation. The intent, added Zemlin, is to provide platforms to developers who seek to address traffic congestion, pollution, and other problems plaguing modern metros.

Here’s the list of TAC members:

  • Drew Dara-Abrams, principal, Interline Technologies
  • Oliver Fink, director Here XYZ, Here Technologies
  • Travis Gorkin, engineering manager of data visualization, Uber
  • Shan He, project leader of Kepler.gl, Uber
  • Randy Meech, CEO, StreetCred Labs
  • Michal Migurski, engineering manager of spatial computing, Facebook
  • Drishtie Patel, product manager of maps, Facebook
  • Paolo Santi, senior researcher, MIT
  • Max Sills, attorney, Google

The first project hosted by the Urban Computing Foundation is Kepler.gl, Uber’s open source, no-code geospatial analysis tool for creating large-scale data sets. Kepler, which was released in 2018, is currently used by Airbnb, Atkins Global, Cityswifter, Lime, Mapbox, Sidewalk Labs, and UBILabs, among others to generate visualizations of location data.

“During moments of both technology disruption and opportunity, open development is critical for enabling interoperability and speeding adoption,” said Zemlin. “The Urban Computing Foundation is poised to provide the compatibility tools and resources for developers to create software that can map out and operate technology services in any given urban area, ensuring safety and equitable access to transportation.”

The Linux Foundation, which was founded in 2000, has more than 1,000 corporate members, including automakers Ford, Mazda, Honda, Subaru, and Suzuki, as well as suppliers like Denso, Panasonic, and LG; software giants Microsoft and IBM; and chip industry incumbents such as Nvidia, Intel, and Arm. The organization’s work in urban computing builds on Enabling Linux in Safety Applications (ELISA), an open source project comprising tools intended to help companies build and certify Linux-based systems whose failure could result in loss of human life, significant property damage, or environmental damage, and on SIL2LinuxMP, a project targeting the certification of embedded safety-critical Linux systems on off-the-shelf computer boards.

Source: VentureBeat

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