A call for data standardization towards shared-mobility providers

With the raise of dockless shared-mobility solutions around the globe, cities are trying to take advantage of the amount of data collected through the smartphone’s apps. Urban planners are willing to analyse those data to understand and forecast flows, plan and design new infrastructures, monitor the supply and demand, with the final goal to integrate as much as possible the new mobility services into the city landscape.

Some difficulties have to be overcome: while authorities are asking for specific data and specific standards, companies are not yet willing to share automatically what they have in stock. In order to change that and initiate a kind of consensus in shared-mobility data policy, the Civic Analytics Network, a group of Chief Data Officers (CDO) including those from DC, Los Angeles or Denver, penned a letter addressed to “Urban Mobility Solution Providers”.

The requests regarding data policy are simple and comply with most of the DOT needs:

    • Using Mobility Data Specification (MDS) is recommended for all internal and external API format. GBFS can be sufficient for public APIs. This is very mandatory to build proper MaaS solutions!
    • Allowing access to raw data in order to manage and monitor the system. It includes real-time and historic APIs, along with location of distribution points with quantity of vehicles. Monthly data file and web dashboard are other recommended features.
  • (At least) part of the data has to be open-data with trip departure and arrival, and availabilty.

CDO’s are also asking to systematize fee policies to fund the appropriate infrastructure to integrate these new services. In order to serve equity, defining a percentage of distribution for each city area is recommended, along with cash and/or text message access to the services. And finally, all devices still in the public space have to be counted against the capacity cap, even if some vehicles are lost, broken, or non-functional.

Nothing really revolutionary, but it is the first  try to gather cities towards a single policy for shared-mobility services. Having cities such as LA and DC shows that this letter can have a weight to define good practices for shared-mobility policy, and in front of powerful mobility companies.

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