Cities should prioritize open data standards and open formats in procurement and development decisions with mobility service providers.

NACTO guidance emphasizes why cities should ensure that they can move fluidly between the many services, standards, and formats currently available to gather, manage, and analyze mobility data.

Date Posted

NACTO Policy 2019: Managing Mobility Data

Summary Information

As the volume of data created on the public right-of-way and exchanged between parties grows, cities and private transportation providers need a common framework for sharing, protecting, and managing data. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the International Municipal Lawyers Association have set out principles and best practices for city agencies and private sector partners to share, protect, and manage data to meet transportation planning and regulatory goals in a secure and appropriate manner. While this document focuses mainly on the data generated by ride-hail and shared micromobility services, the data management principles can apply more broadly.

Open data standards can help cities avoid getting locked into specific platforms or vendors and ensure that cities can continue to take advantage of new developments in the rapidly changing data and technology sector. In contrast, proprietary tools can limit a city's ability to use data appropriately, take advantage of new technologies, or shift to a new provider if prices increase or if the product fails to meet the city’s need. Standardized formats make it easier for cities to use data from multiple sources.

The following lessons outline suggested actions for cities to best promote data portability:

  • Use open standards whenever possible. Preference for open standards should apply in both in-house development and procurement.
  • Update procurement policies to prioritize open standards and standard formats in decision-making.
  • Review privacy policies and data management practices of platforms and vendors to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect data. When a locality takes ownership of data, they are responsible for safeguarding and protecting that data. If a vendor or platform misbehaves, the locality may be liable for giving them access to that data. Another way for cities to protect themselves is to maintain that the data is solely owned by the locality and to require appropriate safeguarding procedures for that data if such procedures do not already exist within the provider itself.
  • Limit liability by engaging in due diligence when selecting a vendor or platform for data management to ensure the protection of data the city will grant third parties' access.