laura schewel

laura schewel 5 bw

intro’d to Laura & StreetLight via :

Streetlight acquires and analyzes anonymous data from G.P.S. and cellular devices—information that’s useful for energy conservationists (how do we drive?), business owners (which corner is best for a grocery store?), and urban planners (where to put the parking garage?)


Published on Jul 11, 2013

Laura Schewel, winner of the ITF Young Transport Researcher of the Year Award, interviewed at the International Transport Forum’s 2013 Summit on Funding Transport

driving for purpose

finding balance

the city you/i want to live in…


laura schewel on mit

Typically, transportation experts construct predictive models to describe traffic patterns, or they conduct expensive surveys. Neither is particularly easy to do. “We have no idea what’s happening on the roads. Just none,” Schewel says. “When you compare that to what we know about what people watch on TV, it’s absurd.” 

With software that she and her team developed, Schewel can type in an address and find the demographics of the people who drive by or stop near that location. The system shows when they drive by, how frequently, and even what neighborhoods they’re coming from. (Importantly, Schewel’s algorithms analyze the movements of groups of these devices, rather than individual units. That means StreetLight’s analytics can’t be reverse-engineered to reveal any given individual’s movements.) 

The information is appealing to customers far beyond the transportation–policy world. A medical office, an auto repair shop, and a small restaurant chain have been using StreetLight’s software to help them decide where to open new locations and place billboards. 


another mit on Laura.. 2013:

mit on schewel

Laura’s work will transform the way information about transportation and mobility behavior is used across business, government, and research. Transportation accounts for over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, has enormous health impacts, and damages quality of life, and yet, Laura realized, we know almost nothing about transportation behavior in the US or abroad. Laura’s inventions utilize mobile data exhaust — archival and anonymous data left over from mobile phone and navigation services — to describe how groups of people move about and use their cities. This approach means that planners, transportation engineers, policy makers, advocates and business leaders can understand the transportation context for any place in any city at a very low cost. Laura founded StreetLight Data to refine and scale her inventions.


life after 2012:

life after smartcamp


“Personally,” Schewel continues, “it means I get a couple years to make good on my belief and vision that StreetLight can improve the way we understand and make decisions about transportation. It’s an extraordinary opportunity. It also means I finally get to pay all the people I convinced to quit their jobs a reasonable salary, which is good too!”


streetlight data site:

streetlight data



city ness