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Google acquires location-based analytics startup Urban Engines to further beef up Google Maps

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Alphabet-owned Google is taking another step towards improving its map services with the acquisition of Urban Engines, a location-based analytics solution for urban planning. The financial details of the transaction haven’t been disclosed by either parties, but the startup will now be joining the Google Maps team at Mountain View.

Location Analytics is an important aspect of the mapping technology for both Google and Urban Engines. And now with this partnership, the two will be able to work together to create synergies and help businesses, customers better understand how the world operates.

Urban Engines was founded in 2014 by a team of four, namely Shiva Shivakumar, Balaji Prabhakar, Giao Nguyen, Deepak Merugu. The key mission of the company is to combines big data and spatial analytics to improve urban mobility and help companies, and individuals make better decisions about transportation.

Urban Engines’ technology is using the enormous amounts of data collected from Internet of ‘moving’ things — data points produced by transit systems, delivery vehicles, on-demand fleets, and others — to improve transportation offerings in surrounding areas.

The founders say that the idea for Urban Engines was formulated while being stuck in a horendous traffic jam in the Silicon Valley of India ‘Bengaluru’. The idea was to create intelligent solutions to analyse traffic data and help individuals save atleast 15-20 minutes of their daily time while commuting. The team wants to make it easier to navigate the real world, as simple and efficient as the web world. The about page on the company’s website describes the technology as under:

Our mapping, visualization, analytics, and optimization platform creates actionable insights — for companies, cities, and commuters — from the increasing amounts of movement data generated by the Internet of Moving Things.

The company has also used this opportunity to regulate and reshape congestion by creating an intelligent software overlay ‘Urban OS’ for our real world. The fundamental challenge is to piece together the high-fidelity, real-time data on a city-wide scale to create a new kind of aggregated space/time data.

It has, thus, leveraged mobile technology, GPS and beacon sensors, and other signals to better understand how people and objects are moving around the world. This cloud-based software can be up and running in a matter of just 30 days and can also be scaled to over a billion trips as the system itself grows.

Over the past couple of years, Urban Engines has had the opportunity to serve “millions of people each day” and “make urban infrastructure more efficient”. But, it is now ready to put the metal to the peddle and take the next step alongside the largest mapping infrastructure provider, Google. Its platform will probably be helpful in the improvement of the transit system, and mixed-mode routing options on Google Maps. The tech giant can also license the former’s products and technology to other enterprise businesses in the future.

Urban Engines has also received backing from some marquee investors of the Valley, including GV, Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Ram Shriram, who is recognized as Google’s first investor. Since its inception, the company has had the privelage of serving and learning from customers across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including ‘smart city’ partnerships with Mayoral Offices and govt. ministries.

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