The company uses modelling tools to give public agencies a comprehensive portrait of how, why, and where people travel across the city.
Replica, a data-based urban planning tool for city planners, has announced it has become an official company.
The spin-out from smart city incubator, Sidewalk Labs, began more than two years ago as the Model Lab to explore modelling as a means of addressing large urban problems.
The newly formed company has also closed a series A funding round and named three new partners in the venture: Innovation Endeavors; Firebrand Ventures; and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
Writing in a bog post, Nick Bowden, CEO and founder of Replica, said Sidewalk Labs will continue to be an important partner in its journey.
During the company’s two-year existence, Bowen said he has been fortunate to meet with public agencies across the world learning more about the data, tools, and processes they use to better understand the places they manage.
“These conversations, along with our early work in Kansas City, Portland, and Chicago, helped us refine our understanding of the challenges these agencies face everyday,” he said.
According to Replica, at the heart of these challenges is a lack of insight into the complex interdependencies between transportation and land use. Public agencies face an incomplete picture of city movement patterns, which can lead to a lower confidence in critical transportation and land use decisions.
“Replica is not interested in the movement of individuals; we are interested in the collective movement of a particular place”
New mobility, rising housing costs, and aging infrastructure have accelerated the urgency to find better solutions.
Replica said it is focused on helping public agencies better understand the movement of people and goods. Its modelling tool uses de-identified mobile location data that aims to give public agencies a comprehensive portrait of how, when, and why people travel.
“Replica is not interested in the movement of individuals; we are interested in the collective movement of a particular place. For this reason, we only start with data that has been de-identified,” continued Bowen. “This data is then used to train a travel behaviour model – basically, a set of rules to represent the movement in a particular place.”
These movement models are then matched with what is referred to as a ‘synthetic’ population. Synthetic populations are created using samples of census demographic data to create a broad new data set that is statistically representative of the actual population.
The combination of the travel models with a representative population, is a set of replicate trip patterns verified with real-world movement counts. An output that is both privacy-sensitive and extremely useful for public agencies.
Over the next few months, Replica said it plans to launch in several new regions, all of which were involved in its initial partner programme. The company hopes the additional financing will allow it to partner with more agencies and roll-out as a faster pace.
Replica will continue to be headquartered in Kansas City with a primary engineering office in San Francisco.
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