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.
To best serve the public good and ensure safe passage, to protect public health and welfare, and to govern commerce in the public right-of-way and on private property, cities need access to the data generated by mobility service providers. This information ensures that city governments can make informed decisions about what is happening in the public street and how it might impact safety, health, equity, environmental outcomes, and the distribution of people and resources.
Legislative actions that limit the data that cities receive from private mobility service providers harm the public because they curtail local governments’ ability to effectively manage local streets and address local concerns. For example, cities have a legitimate interest in data generated by ridehail trips as this data will document compliance with laws and regulations, and can document negative externalities, such as increased traffic congestion and emissions. Cities cannot serve their constituents without good information to inform public policy.
The following lessons outline suggested actions for cities to best serve the public good:
- Require access to data from mobility services operating in the public right-of-way as a default requirement for operating in the public realm. Cities need a wide variety of data in order to make informed decisions and policies.
- Use their authority to issue and enforce contractual agreements to guide private sector actions and protect the public interest. Cities should strive to select vendors who collect, manage, and share data in a manner that aligns with city privacy policies. Where possible, cities should reinforce policy goals through rigorous enforcement of contractual terms.
- Expand their internal capacity to analyze the data they receive and to confirm data quality.
- Develop or update strategic plans for managing mobility in a digital age to address data management, adequate training, and appropriate insurance coverage and safeguarding procedures.
- Coordinate to create or adopt standardized, open data formats that level the playing field between companies and transportation providers by making expectations about information sharing and management more consistent and predictable across cities. Tools such as the Mobility Data Specification developed by the City of Los Angeles are one step toward a unified standard.