Case Studies

Enriching the Google Maps User Experience in Mexico City

Google Maps

Mexico City recently faced two public transport challenges. First, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted demand, resulting in informal transport operators adjusting routes to maintain profitability while continuing to serve commuters. Second, a fire in January 2021 shut down parts of the city’s Metro system, creating additional demand for the operational public transport network that remained.

Mexico City boasts a range of public transport options, from formal government-run Metro and bus systems to flexible informal modes, known locally as colectivos. Mexico City’s Secretaría de Movilidad—the local government mobility department—put out a call for technology platforms, such as Google Maps, to offer alternative routes to help citizens save time and avoid overcrowding vehicles.

Google Maps already included official data sources on formal transport in Mexico City, however, the team wanted to enrich the user experience with additional data from the city’s colectivos. Google was looking to create an experience more representative of the mobility ground truth for their users in Mexico City, with accurate and reliable data essential for that goal.

WhereIsMyTransport was the first organisation to map Mexico City's extensive public transport network in its entirety. Across the Majority World, accurate and reliable public transport network data is rarely available from a central source, if it is available at all. WhereIsMyTransport has developed a suite of custom tools for mobility data production in dynamic urban environments, updating information that is outdated or missing from official data sources and digitalising complete network information from flexible modes. We produce comprehensive public transport network data and maintain its accuracy, serving as a central, first party source of mobility ground truth.

By working with WhereIsMyTransport, Google was able to further localise Google Maps in Mexico City, providing users with reliable information from public transport alternatives. Their powerful trip-planning algorithm considers all options, which can now include the Metro, formal buses, and colectivos on the same journey.

This is a game changer for Google Maps users in Mexico City, where the network of colectivos is over ten times the size of the formal system. Google has proven that enriching consumer services with public transport data from all modes, whatever their operational style, can be straightforward. For Mexico City, the result is a localised journey-planning experience that accounts for all of the city’s transport assets.

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