Giving Compass' Take:

• Los Angeles is trying to gather and analyze mobility data using key tech tools to improve the city's access to transportation and regulate it as efficiently as possible. 

 • How can donors support more initiatives that utilize mobility tech to make more equitable travel?

• Read about why community engagement is key for equitable bike-share expansion. 

As the dockless bike and e-scooter trend rapidly spreads across the country, cities are increasingly trying to figure out the best ways to manage the devices. While dockless vehicles represent a visible reminder of the public desire for alternative urban mobility options, municipal leaders sometimes find themselves in a pickle trying to fulfill those desires with limited resources.

"There's a demand for people to utilize new mobility options … [but] we’ve realized that the public sector can't do it on its own," Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Chief Sustainability Officer Marcel Porras told Smart Cities Dive.

In September, Los Angeles launched a year-long dockless device pilot and instated new regulations for the program. But earlier last year it unveiled a key tool to assist with the governance: the Mobility Data Specification (MDS). MDS is a data and API standard that allows the city to gather, analyze and compare real-time data from mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) companies. The specification also serves as a measurement tool that eases municipalities’ ability to enforce regulations.

"First and foremost, it’s about managing our right-of-way," Porras said. The real-time data sharing lets city employees quickly see if, for example, MaaS providers are keeping within their allotment of devices. It can also show where the bikes and scooters are located to meet equity goals. "That's a big question for cities, how do we equitably distribute resources?” Porras said.

Although city employees could input the requested data, that’s an onerous task that needs constant updating to be effective. It’s far more efficient to have MaaS providers enter their standardized data into a system that can share it with the city nearly instantly. "We can no longer simply rely on those analog tools we have for so long. We have to create a digital set of management tools, which we think MDS provides the foundation for,” Porras said.

Read the full article about Los Angeles' mobility data by Katie Pyzyk at Smart Cities Dive