StreetLight Data was founded in 2011 by Laura Schewel, a sustainable transportation expert who recognized that, while excellent data exists on people's online and e-commerce activity, there is virtually no information about how people commute, shop and travel in the real world. Given how important transportation is for climate change, quality of life, pollution, equity, and the economy, this situation seemed absurd to Laura. At that time, she was developing new technologies and data approaches for transportation data as part of her PhD at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group.
Laura founded StreetLight Data because she realized that commercializing her research techniques could unlock barriers to data-driven transportation, urban design, and commercial planning. In 2011, co-founder Paul Friedman joined the team, bringing deep experience in creating commercial data products. He solidified the company’s product offering and technical approach.