Urban Engines started as a research project eight years ago in Bangalore, India, incentivizing employees of Infosys to commute during off-peak hours to reduce congestion.
Now, the start-up has the backing of Google and is working with cities including Casablanca, Morocco, and Manchester, England, to make urban transportation globally more efficient.
Customers ranging from San Francisco's Bay Area Transit System (BART) to Toyota are using the software to gather data from all the sensors attached to cars, buses, trains and fare cards for a real-time view of travel speeds and conditions.
"It's essentially a space-time map of where thing were and where things are," said Alphabet Chairman and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who invested in Urban Engines independently of Google Ventures. "It's applicable across a number of industries," Schmidt said in an interview. He cited ridesharing and smart buses as the obvious areas.