Air pollution, driving restrictions, and devastatingly long traffic jams are an everyday nuisance for many Chinese commuters. Some traffic jams in China are so bad, they’ve even earned their own Wikipedia entries. But companies such as Didi, ofo, and other local innovators are using big data to bring us into the era of smart commuting.

One of the companies on the forefront of urban travel innovation is bike-rental company ofo. With 6 million bicycles in 120 cities across five countries and plans to expand to 200 cities worldwide, ofo is collecting tons of information about user behavior.

“When it comes to city construction and planning, especially when it comes to what role bicycles will play in the process, there has been a lack of data”, said ofo co-founder Austin Zhang during last week’s TechCrunch event in Shenzhen. “Through the development of bike sharing, our own data from ofo, the growth of everyday use of our product by tens of millions of people on city streets, through our own back-end, we can see what are the peak hours at the most demanding places, what places are less demanding, which areas are congested and which are not. This can serve as a reference for future urban planning.”

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.