Smart Cities Week: Cubic and MasterCard Launch the Urbanomics Mobility Project


Cubic Transportation Systems, a business unit of Cubic Corporation, has launched a urban consulting unit – Urban Insights. Through that consultancy, the company has partnered with MasterCard to launch the Urbanomics Mobility Project which will advise cities on how to look at both economic and transit data together to make better planning decisions.

The Urbanomics Mobility Project is being previewed during Smart Cities Week in Washington, D.C. from September 15 – 17.

The initiative leverages Urban Insights’ big data analytics and visualization technology; Cubic’s expertise in processing more than $24 billion per year in public transportation revenue; and spending trends and insights derived from 43 billion transactions processed over the MasterCard network each year.

“After the financial crisis, MasterCard started looking for ways to partner with government, and we recognized there was a big need in terms of helping cities plan smarter and be more efficient,” explains Ed Brandt, executive vice president and managing director, government services and solutions at MasterCard in an interview with CivSource. “We now have programs in 58 different countries and 900 programs with governments and we see that the data is an incredibly important element.”

MasterCard signed the collaboration agreement with Urban Insights earlier this year in order to build on those programs through the consultancy, and combination of both data sets.  The financial transaction data MasterCard contributes is fully anonymized and provides aggregate trends. The data from Cubic also provides anonymized information on things like bus transfers, transit card swipes, and route usage.

“What we want to do is overlay the economic data on transit data to get a better understanding of where people spend money in a community, and what areas might be underserved by transit,” adds Dan Collins, general manager of Cubic’s Urban Insights. “You could look at one community and see that a lot of people are doing their shopping away from downtown, because it is easier to get to one area on the transit system, for example. Now, transit officials can see that the reason why downtown isn’t getting as much business is because there aren’t good options for transit. This provides a whole new layer of understanding from an economic development and city planning perspective.”

Over the near term Urban Insights plans to preview its data visualization tool for city planners and other interested stakeholders at events like the one in D.C. According to Collins, when other cities can start to see what kinds of projects have been successful elsewhere, they want to find ways to improve and that feeling has been driving some of the early conversations they’ve had.

“We’re really open in terms of where this goes, it’s still totally new for all of us.” Brandt says.