Practical Data Visualizations and Custom Layers — Spring 2019
As a Remix customer, you and your teams have access to data layers and visualizations that we have seen cities and agencies use to enrich their planning processes, communicate big data, and tell a stronger story. With previous posts on the Remix blog from February 2018 and January 2017, we figured it was time to add another verse to the custom data show & tell. Check out five new and original visualizations being used by customers today.
CalEnviroScreen — 3.0
Remix now displays the CalEnvironScreen 3.0 data for all of our partners in California. CalEnviroScreen identifies California communities by census tract that are disproportionately burdened by, and vulnerable to, multiple sources of pollution. This data can be used for a number of Caltrans programs aiming to reduce greenhouse gases.
Micro Transit Zones — Ride On (Montgomery County, MD)
Ride On in Maryland is planning to implement micro transit service and has visualized its proposed flex zones in Remix to see how they interact with their existing fixed route service.
Ramp Deployments — VIA (San Antonio, TX)
VIA in San Antonio, TX wanted to map and display where buses are deploying their accessibility ramps across the fixed route network. They hope to use this data to meet on-time performance goal and identify sites to be considered for boarding facility improvements.
Bublr Bike Share Location — MCTS (Milwaukee, WI)
MCTS added a custom layer displaying Bublr Bike Share stations. This allows MCTS to plan bus service and facilities in conjunction with bike share to emphasize multimodal trips and offer additional options for first/last mile.
Ridership Heat Map — RideMTD (Harrisburg, IL)
In addition to visualizing ridership as a stop buffers that may vary in size or color, ridership can also be displayed in a heat map, like in Harrisburg, IL. Heat maps are a quick way to identify pickup and dropoff concentrations for shuttles, on-demand, or paratransit service.
As always, if you have any questions or want to visualize your data in Remix, please reach out to your Customer Success Manager. Happy Planning!
When It Comes to Shared Scooter Regulations, Cities Know BestGive cities the tools they need to manage their local transportation systems
A slew of scooter bills are winding through state capitals during this legislative session. Many of the bills contain preemption language, curtailing or eliminating completely city authority to manage and plan scooter share programs. This should concern both cities and consumers — particularly when micromobility (shared bikes, scooters, etc.) is quickly changing the urban transportation landscape and cities are grappling with how to redesign the public right of way to accommodate this shift.
What is Preemption?
Typically through constitutional authority, states gives cities the power to adopt and enforce city ordinances regulating private businesses. Cities may not adopt ordinances that directly conflict with state law. A local ordinance conflicts with state law when the legislature has made clear its intent to preempt local regulation over a specific subject. Preemption refers to denying the local authority the ability to regulate, tax, or impose rules, in this article, on shared scooters.
Preemption and Scooters, bad news for cities & residents
The issue of whether cities or states set the rules and regulations isn’t just about control. It is about who bears the responsibility and costs of managing the system. Who knows this best? The cities dealing with shared scooters or the state legislators, many of whom represent districts outside cities?
Cities have the responsibility to manage the transportation system, ensure equitable access, maintain the roadways, create safe streets and more — and they need to be empowered to monitor and encourage these outcomes quickly. Scooters have primarily rolled out in cities, and cities need to be able to understand how and where people are using these new modes so they can make infrastructure investments to support the safe operation of the program. Furthermore scooters are impacting city departments like transportation and public works, who may need to impound vehicles left haphazardly on a private yard, or blocking a wheelchair sidewalk ramp. As an illustration, imagine finding a cluster of scooters blocking a busy sidewalk. Then imagine having to report this to state regulators instead of the city’s 311 customer service system.
Cities have unique problems that states often overlook or do not prioritize. For instance, congestion impacts on local roads are primarily a city concern. Cities around the country are feeling the impact of thousands of Lyft and Uber (TNC) vehicles congesting city roadways. Cities have the responsibility to manage the local transportation system on which almost everyone, and the majority of commerce rely on a daily basis; but (with very few exceptions) cities have almost no role in managing Lyft and Uber. This role has been left to the states, which are often divorced from the reality of on-the-ground urban ktransportation needs. The National Employment Law Project reported that lawmakers in 41 states have passed laws that have taken away some or all of the ability of cities to set their own standards on the TNC industry.
This set-up doesn’t work for cities or the public who rely on an efficient transportation system!
Let’s not repeat this mistake and rely on states to set the rules for micromobility — an arguably even more localized transportation issue involving how city residents use shared bikes, scooters, sidewalks, and more. It’s true there are areas where patchwork, city-by-city regulations do not make sense (such as insurance requirements, vehicle safety and emissions standards); but there are many areas where city-by-city policy nuances do make sense. Cities should maintain authority over these polices.
Here is a sample of state preemption bills across the country and what is at stake:
“Regulation of micro-mobility devices and for-hire motorized scooters is exclusively controlled by state and federal law.”
This quote from Florida House Bill 453 should be deeply concerning to cities in the State of Florida. The bill appears to legalize scooter share, but does so by establishing minimal state regulations and limiting cities’ role in managing scooters on their streets and rights-of-way. By explicitly stating regulation of scooters is exclusively the purview of state and federal law the legislature is sending a clear message to cities — even though they are your streets, the state knows best!
The Florida House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and State Affairs Committee passed the bill with near unanimous votes in favor. However there is a competing bill moving in the Florida Senate that (SB 542) that does not appear to preempt local authority.
“In regulating shared scooters or scooter share programs, a local authority may not impose any unduly restrictive requirement on a scooter share operator, including requiring operation below cost, nor subject riders of shared scooters to requirements more restrictive than those applicable to riders of privately owned motorized foot scooters or bicycles.”
In Washington State, The City of Seattle’s dockless program is a national example of how cities and private providers worked together to meet the needs of the local population — expanding access and ridership through thoughtful management. In its first year alone, the program saw more than 1.5 million rides. The bill, as originally introduced, would have severely limited cities’ ability to manage scooter share on their streets while creating egregious ambiguity. Who decides what “unduly restrictive requirements” are? Also, the bill appears to eliminate the potential for cities to require low-income or discounted scooter share programs, restricting the benefits of scooters for communities of concern. Worse yet, the bill would have dramatically curtailed the data sharing cities can require from mobility providers limiting their ability to discern how shared scooters are impacting the public right of way, safety, and transportation redesign needs.
HB 1772 was approved by the legislature. Fortunately, the bill was heavily amended in committee, stripping the ambiguous language restricting cities’ ability to manage the systems. As the bill was approved, the state would delegate most regulatory authority to cities. I applaud the state legislators who voted for this amendment, favoring local management rather than state control.
“…any such data provided shall be treated as trade secret and proprietary business information, shall not be shared to third parties without the licensee’s consent, and shall not be treated as owned by the local authority;.”
Massachusetts currently has more scooter-related bills than almost any other state, and a particularly concerning bill is HB 3040 because of the stance it takes on data sharing. Because shared scooters need to be permitted in most locations where they operate, cities have the ability to require data sharing that is critical for the cities’ mobility management and planning role. HB3040 would require data sharing, but only under the terms set by the Commonwealth. The City of Boston would have to agree to the scooter providers data licensing agreement before the provider would share the scooter trip data.
The City of Boston could not own the data that is arguably rightfully theirs, and the data would be classified as “proprietary”, limiting the City of Boston’s ability to use and share it. States legislatures should not be tying cities’ hands in this way, and instead they should recognize that cities know best when it comes to the need for and use of data.
Who sets the rules for micromobility isn’t about control; it’s about responsibility.
Cities have the responsibility to the public to manage and plan a safe and efficient transportation system. But states do have a role.
States should focus their role on defining and legalizing micromobility modes like shared scooters. They should focus on safety standards for the devices, insurance, and liability requirements; but leave details like vehicle speeds, parking, and use of sidewalks to cities. States should stipulate trip data sharing is required, but leave the format, fields, and ownership of data up to the cities. More and more cities are quickly becoming data savvy and know how to use, store, and protect the privacy of the data they collect.
Cities and the public who rely on an efficient transportation system are suffering under the limited and often misguided rules on private mobility providers set by states. Let’s reset the precedent on mobility management and give cities the tools they need to manage their local transportation systems.
As cities embrace new mobility, they must ensure that transportation remains equitable and safe for all. To do this, cities need data generated by new mobility providers. But how much data do you need, and how do you balance data privacy against public transparency?
We are starting a series of webinars where we talk to leaders in the shared and new mobility space to get the latest insights on this fast-changing industry and, hopefully, offer more guidance for cities, public, and citizens on how to make all of these modes work together to deliver a holistic and cohesive transportation system.
To kick off this series, we held a discussion about data — one of the most important pieces that allow us to make informed decisions and policies.
In the webinar, we heard from Michael Schnuerle, Chief Data Officer for the Louisville, Kentucky Office of Civic Innovation and Technology, and Dana Yanocha, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. They uncovered opportunities and shared some challenges that cities face today when it comes to collecting, analyzing, and sharing mobility data.
We also heard from Remix’s lead data engineer, Caitlin Colgrove, as she described the data infrastructure, data privacy, and information security controls Remix has built.
View the on-demand webinar in full to:
Learn how Louisville manages their new mobility data policy with providers and why they are one of only two cities (Austin, TX is the other) that have published their new mobility data on their open data portal
Discover 10+ use cases for new mobility data
Get an inside look at the Remix data platform and how it handles data security and privacy
Find out the ITDP’s recommended data framework for new mobility to ensure your city operates most effectively
“What data should cities ask for and why? Don’t ask for everything,” recommends Dana Yanocha, ITDP.
Dana goes into what you should ask for and the best data format to request. And, as a bonus, you’ll hear why Chicago and LA are emerging as leaders with their new mobility data policies.
An important question about data accuracy and quality was highlighted by all three panelists.
“Communicating city goals and what they are hoping to achieve by working with the operators is invaluable,” said Dana Yanocha, ITDP.
“Data provided by mobility companies is not the only data set that you can incorporate, and so often it’s very helpful to correlate this with other data sets to try to figure out what’s actually going on,” said Caitlin Colgrove as she talked about how we can get a more complete picture with the help of accurate data.
Watch the full webinar for in-depth details.
Want to see how Remix can help you manage new mobility and your city’s transportation? Reach out to us at email@example.com
It’s been an exciting start to the new year at Remix. We’re now working with nearly 350 cities, launched a new and improved Jane isochrone (our most beloved product feature), and raised our Series B — all in service of our mission to help build more livable cities.
When we founded Remix during our non-profit fellowships at Code for America in 2014, we had no idea how fast the transportation industry would evolve. As a civic tech company, we are strongly shaped by Code for America’s values — starting with the core belief that “government can work for the people, by the people, in the digital age.”
As we’ve expanded our lens from transit planning to street planning and mobility management, we always focus on outcomes that result from data-driven public policy. These public policy outcomes are shared by many— such as equitable access to mobility services, sustainability, and safety. We’ve built strong partnerships with both cities and mobility providers that agree on the value of data to reshape mobility. We believe that when cities and mobility companies work together in a spirit of collaboration, the resulting outcomes are more powerful for all involved — and profit can thrive alongside public good rather than in opposition to it.
Today, we’re proud to announce that Jascha Franklin-Hodge, former Chief Information Officer of the City of Boston, and Meera Joshi, former Commissioner of New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, will be advising Remix as we work with our city customers and partners to achieve the best transportation outcomes for all. Both Jascha and Meera bring a wealth of policy experience that will be invaluable in such a rapidly changing environment.
Jascha is a national thought-leader on data governance. During his tenure as Chief Innovation Officer at City of Boston, Jascha created the City’s first Digital Team to build exceptional, user-centered digital services, such as the award-winning Boston.gov and BOS:311 mobile app. He also established a Citywide Analytics Team to apply the tools of modern data analysis and modeling to improve quality of life in the city, enhance the operations of government, and support data-driven policy making. His team addressed issues as diverse as firefighter safety, workforce diversity, and ambulance response times. Jascha also spearheaded city policy and programs related to broadband and digital equity, created a digital constituent communication program, and led Boston to be the first-ever city to negotiate a data sharing agreement with Uber in 2015.
Prior to his career in public service, Jascha founded Blue State Digital and led the technical infrastructure that powered the success of the 2008 Obama campaign. Jascha recently finished his term as a Joint Research Fellow with the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Harvard Kennedy School. He authored Remix’s latest policy brief, “A Practical City Guide to Mobility Data Licensing.”
Meera is the former Commissioner of NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), where she oversaw the largest private for-hire ground transportation industry in the US, making a million trips a day. Under her leadership, the agency fostered tremendous diversity, growth, and innovation in the taxi, car service, ride-hailing, and commuter van industries while maintaining the highest standards of public safety and consumer protection. Meera initiated programs that have made TLC a national leader in data analysis, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, protecting drivers’ pay, and traffic safety.
Meera is a vocal advocate for the value that robust transportation data brings to policymakers and citizens alike, and under her tenure NYC became the first city in the nation to require detailed data from large app operators like Uber and Lyft. By making much of this data public, she has become a leader in the Open Data movement. Under her leadership, NYC created the largest wheelchair-accessible for-hire fleet in the country, including a program that centrally dispatches a wheelchair-accessible taxi on demand to anywhere in the five boroughs, and created the first pay protection for drivers of app services like Uber and Lyft in the nation. TLC serves as one of the lead agencies in New York’s citywide “Vision Zero” program and promotes traffic safety through a comprehensive suite of education, outreach, enforcement, and technology promotion programs. Through these efforts, fatalities involving TLC vehicles were reduced by 50%. Meera is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy.
Jascha and Meera join the accomplished members of our current policy team, Rachel Zack and Andrew Glass Hastings:
Rachel Zack is a policy strategist at Remix, where she researches policy related to dockless programs, ride-hailing and autonomous vehicles. She explores how cities can work with private partners to disrupt vehicle trip generation, while also delivering on safe and more equitable mobility systems. Before joining Remix, Rachel consulted for agencies across the country (including SFCTA, MTC, TriMet, MnDOT) on strategic planning for shared mobility and autonomous vehicles. Rachel worked closely with technology companies to implement pilot programs that delivered on congestion reduction and increased transit access. Her work in the field received the Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Award in WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions Award in 2017.
Andrew Glass Hastings is a senior policy strategist at Remix, and has been a leader on key transportation policies and initiatives for nearly 15 years. Previously as the Director of Transit & Mobility for the City of Seattle, Andrew and his team worked to redefine urban mobility by integrating new mobility programs and services into the broader transportation system. Prior, Andrew was the Senior Transportation Advisor to two mayors in Seattle, the Government Relations Administrator for King County Metro, and helped pass the adoption of the Sound Transit 2 Plan, which dedicated $10.8 billion for light rail in the Puget Sound region.
We’re excited to have such a strong team pushing for better transportation policy outcomes in our cities. To learn more, feel free to read further at blog.remix.com/policy, or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to announce several big updates to Jane — the Remix isochrone that visualizes riders access and mobility across a transit network. We have built a sleek new layout, streamlined existing functionality, and have added a few new functions. Don’t fret — Jane is still sporting her iconic solid black, Marimekko dress.
The look and feel of the Jane menu have been refreshed. The new layout has parallels that mimic the improved layers pane introduced earlier this year. The menu opens from the upper right-hand side of the screen offering more screen real estate to utilize the tool and interact with new functions.
Janes new Layout!
Ever wonder how long it would take to get to Jane from other parts of your service area? We are excited to announce reverse Jane. Toggle between ‘Time from Jane’ and ‘Time to Jane’ to understand directional travel across your network. The isochrones will change to display the reachable areas by travel direction as opposed to only showing travels times away from Jane. Reverse Jane can help answer questions like, “How long does it take students across the region to get to the local community college?” or “How many potential employees can get to [instert major employer] within 30 mins?”
Reverse Jane in action
Editable Isochrone Times
We’ve acted on your feedback related to travel time and are excited to expand travel time for more flexibility. You now have control over the minimum/maximum travels times. This allows you to visualize travel times as short as 20 minutes or as long as three hours.
Travel time isochrone options
Wait Times and Demographics
While some elements of Jane have become more robust, a few have been streamlined. We have simplified the way you can toggle between using the two available methodologies — “Average” or “Timetables”. This new interaction includes a quick explanation for how each method impacts the way Jane rides a network. Similarly, Jane still calculates demographic information inside of each isochrone timeband, but these are now displayed to the right of the timeband and update even faster.
Wait time explanations
We hope these new improvements to Jane offer even more utility when it comes to offering the greatest level of access to your community. Whether you’re using Jane to understand food access, drive internal discussion or perhaps tell the story of an upcoming change to the network, we’d love to hear about your projects.
As cities regulate and license new mobility services, access to anonymized data is an essential tool to manage public space, create a safe and equitable transportation system, and to ensure accountability for private companies operating on public streets.
But data licensing is complex, and there are important issues related to security, privacy, and disclosure that should be considered. We offer this guide to aid cities as they craft their data sharing rules and negotiate with mobility providers. We welcome feedback and suggestions.
Part 1. Asking for the data
Below are six key areas to focus on when creating program rules and data licenses:
1. Type of data license
Mobility providers may ask cities to negotiate and sign separate data licenses, in addition to whatever data sharing requirements are present in the providers’ permits. As managers of the public right of way, cities are entitled to data they need to do their job. Data licenses must preserve this right and make data sharing a fundamental condition of operation.
Recommendation: Embed data license terms in the permit issued to providers. Alternatively, use the permit to reference a separate, city-developed license agreement that must be entered into as a condition of operation.
Avoid: Entering into license agreements that vary from one provider to the next, or negotiating separate license agreements that may undermine city’s data rights in the provider’s permit.
2. Rights of use
From planning to permit enforcement to public engagement, mobility data has many potential uses. Cities should insist on broad use rights for any data received from mobility providers. Because uses for mobility data are still emerging, maximizing data rights upfront allows for future flexibility and reduces the risk of needing to renegotiate a license agreement.
Recommendation: Seek language that allows cities to use data “for planning, program management, public engagement, and any other municipal purpose” or a similarly broad grant of rights. While cities should reserve broad data use rights in agreements with providers, they may want to restrict themselves to more narrowly defined uses when creating internal policies and publishing public transparency and privacy policies.
Avoid: Overly restrictive or specific lists of allowed uses or prohibitions on uses that might interfere with the city’s ability to use data to fulfill its public obligations (such as restrictions on “reverse engineering” of provider business practices or use of data in ways that may be harmful to the provider’s business).
3. Raw/precise data
Mobility providers are sometimes reluctant to share data about trips that contains precise GPS locations, frequently citing privacy concerns. Some cities have been pressured to accept lower precision data or data that has been pre-aggregated by the provider. While low-precision data may be useful for high level reporting and analysis, it may not give sufficient detail for enforcing permit rules, for example no parking zones or vehicle caps.
Recommendation: Ensure that the city has the right to raw/precise data as part of its license to data. The city may chose to store data in a less precise format to avoid privacy concerns, but should have the option of accessing raw data without renegotiating its data license.
Avoid: Allowing providers to deliver pre-aggregated data, which may severely limit the city’s ability to ensure data quality or to use data to enforce rules against providers.
4. Sharing with other agencies
Urban transportation planning and management frequently involves many stakeholders. City DOTs often engage and share data with transit agencies, state DOTs, MPOs, and other governmental or quasi-governmental organizations. Data licenses which prohibit such sharing will make it difficult to get full public value from mobility data.
Recommendation: Seek the explicit right to share data with other governmental entities with which the city engages in planning, right-of-way management, and service coordination. Cities may need to list specific agencies and/or agree to require them to abide by any restrictions to which the city is held under its data license. Many cities may want to exclude sharing with law enforcement agencies (absent a court order) to avoid civil liberties concerns.
Avoid: Provisions which require prior approval from providers before data can be shared or requirements that other agencies seek their own licenses directly with providers.
5. Third-party management software
While some cities may analyze raw mobility data themselves, many will want to employ third-party software and services (such as Remix) to help them get value from data and ensure provider compliance. The city should not need special permission to use a third-party service, nor should they be forced to chose from a list of tools deemed acceptable by the provider.
Recommendation: Seek the right to use any third-party software or service for mobility management, provided that the city ensures that the third-party abides by any restrictions or limitations to which the city has agreed. Ensure that any API access or data feeds may be accessed directly by the third-party operating on behalf of the city.
Avoid: Requirement for pre-approval for use of third-party management software, need for the third-party to sign their own license agreement directly with providers, or limitations on access to data feeds and APIs by authorized third-parties.
6. Combining data sources
Cities may want to look at data from individual providers or at data from across all providers in a city. Combined views of data will be especially valuable for planning and public communication purposes. Cities may also want to bring other related datasets into their analyses (census, public transit, demand modeling, etc.).
Recommendation: Seek the right to combine and analyze provider data alone or in conjunction with data from other providers or sources.
Avoid: Rules which overly restrict the ways multisource reports or analysis may be used. For example, a city should not be barred for sharing data about mobility services as part of a larger transportation equity analysis or planning exercise.
7. Duration of data access
While cities may or may not want to retain mobility data indefinitely, they should make sure that their licenses allow them access to these data for as long as they might reasonably need data to perform their public responsibilities. Local rules for records retention may dictate a minimum period for which data must be retained.
Recommendation: All data use rights are maintained for at least three years after the date when a provider ceases operation in a city. The provider agrees to maintain feeds and API access for historical data for at least one year, even after the provider ceases operations or is no longer permitted to operate.
Avoid: Rights to data which terminate when a provider ceases operation or when the provider’s license is expired or revoked. In an adversarial situation with a noncompliant provider, it will be especially important for cities to maintain access to data which may be critical to demonstrating noncompliance.
Part 2. Limitations on cities
Mobility providers may attempt to place additional limitations, requirements, or restrictions on cities. Below are four key areas to consider:
1. Protection of data
Cities may reasonably be required to protect data from loss, theft, or disclosure as part of a data license, and to assume liability for certain types of data loss. Each city will need to consider these requirements relative to its intended use cases, IT security rules, and risk tolerance.
Recommendation: Consult with city IT personnel early to develop a data protection strategy that aligns with the requirements of the data license. Make sure restrictions that limit access to data to specific city personnel are aligned with the city’s real-world business processes. Using third-party management software like Remix can reduce IT security complexity considerably.
Avoid: Liability for data disclosure which results from non-negligent actions or which is necessary in order to comply with legal processes such as court orders or FOIA requests. Restrictions on disclosure that would limit the city’s ability to enforce permit rules or communicate to the public about an enforcement action (for example: releasing data that showed a provider violated an equity provision in their permit).
2. Reidentification of users
Although most mobility data is anonymous, it is sometimes possible to reidentify individual people in large datasets by combining anonymized mobility data with other information sources (such as a records of home and work addresses). Data licenses may forbid cities from attempting to reidentify individual users within the data set.
Recommendation: Restrictions on reidentification are not unreasonable and may provide useful reassurance to the public about the city’s use of data.
Avoid: Requiring providers to share personally identifiable information to cities without a court order. Such rules are likely to trigger concerns about civil liberties and individual privacy, and may force providers to violate their end user agreements to comply with data requests. Also, avoid requesting unique, anonymous user identifiers as this greatly decreases the difficulty of reidentification.
3. Open data/public sharing
Some cities may wish to publish mobility data on an open data website. Because it may be possible to reidentify users in an anonymous data set, cities should carefully weigh the risk and benefit of publishing records about individual trips. Aggregated data that does not show individual trips usually has a very low risk of reidentification.
Recommendation: If cities choose to retain the right to release individual trip records, they should work with data experts to minimize the risk of reidentification using techniques such as the reduction precision in location and time, and the removal of unique vehicle IDs. Cities should always retain the right to release reports, maps, and data created by aggregating records from multiple trips together.
Avoid: Broad restrictions on sharing data with the public or blanket declarations of confidentiality on mobility data and derivative reports or analysis.
4. Competitive disclosure
Because of the intensely competitive nature of the mobility market, providers are concerned that detailed data about their services might fall into the hands of competitors.
Recommendation: It is OK to agree to restrictions on data use and disclosure that protect competitively sensitive information, provided they do not interfere with the city’s legitimate uses of data.
Avoid: Language that may be incompatible with public records laws or which gives providers power to veto data uses with which they disagree.
Part 3. Other considerations
Below are five other key areas to consider:
1. Data formats
Data licenses should specify how data is to be shared with cities. Using standardized, open formats that provide detailed trip and vehicle information gives cities maximum flexibility in how they use data. It also makes it easy to use third-party management software and open source tools for analysis and reporting.
Recommendation: Require that providers give data using two open source data standards: MDS Provider and GBFS (see our blog post explaining these formats). These formats are rapidly becoming industry standards. Because the formats are evolving, cities should require that providers stay up-to-date with new versions of MDS Provider and GBFS as they are released. Cities may also want to require providers to give additional usage information, including safety issues, customer surveys, or aggregated summaries.
Avoid: Custom data formats or non-standard APIs that will require cities to develop bespoke tools for data analysis or require providers to create custom data reporting.
2. Public transparency
While mobility data is important to the management of the public right of way, it is also potentially sensitive from a privacy perspective. Cities should develop clear internal policies and a thoughtful public transparency strategy.
Recommendation: Write internal rules for mobility data and publish a plain language public statement about mobility data that addresses:
what data is collected
for what purposes data will be used (and not used, ex: enforcement actions against individuals)
with whom it may be shared (including with third-party management software vendors, other agencies, and/or law enforcement)
how long it will be retained
the ways in which it will be stored and handled to reduce any privacy risk
In the absence of a clear statement of intent and a demonstration of a serious approach to privacy, it is easy for constituents to become concerned about a city’s use of mobility data. This potential concern also opens the door for providers to resist sharing in the first place.
Avoid: Relying solely on IT security policies or general statements about privacy when communicating with the public.
Each state has its own “freedom of information” laws and requirements (commonly known as sunshine, public records, FOIA, or FOIL). Providers will typically seek to exempt data they give to cities from disclosure under FOIA, citing competitive or privacy concerns. They may also seek to compel cities to participate in the defense of a refusal to release data under FOIA.
Recommendation: Work with your legal team to determine what, if any, legal exemptions may exist that would allow the city to refuse a FOIA request for data. If possible, state those exemptions clearly in the data license and define the city’s posture in the event a court or other legal authority deems those exemptions inapplicable. It is reasonable for cities to agree to notify the provider in the event they receive a FOIA request for their data, provided the city has an appropriate business process to make such a notification.
Avoid: Open-ended agreements to defend against FOIA requests, especially those which may result in significant legal costs or liability for the city.
Law around liability for data disclosure is complex and may vary from state to state based on local privacy laws. Rules such as the California Consumer Privacy Act may impact how a city handles data and the requirements they should impose on any third-party with which they contract to work with data on the city’s behalf. Cities should work with legal counsel to understand how to best address these issues in data licenses and vendor contracts.
5. Ownership versus license
Given that cities receive a sufficiently broad license, it is not strictly necessary for cities to “own” the data being shared by providers. However, careful review of license terms is necessary to ensure city rights are protected, especially in a scenario where the relationship with the provider becomes contentious.
Legal counsel note: This document is intended to aid cities in their consideration of the issues surrounding data licensing. It does not constitute legal advice nor does it address a number of topics that will be important in any licensing agreement. Cities should work with their in-house legal team and, where necessary, seek specialized legal support for the more complex aspects of data licensing.
Drafted for Remix — updated as of 2019–03–28
Do you have comments that you would like to share with Remix? Please send your comments to email@example.com
Cities trust Remix to help them manage public space, create a safe and equitable transportation system, and enforce rules for private companies operating services on public streets. Anonymized mobility data is an essential tool that lets cities understand and manage emerging modes and services.
Remix works closely with cities to protect this mobility data and individual privacy:
We employ modern information security practices, including data segregation, role-based access control, full data encryption both at rest and in transit, and logging / auditing of data access.
We work only with anonymized mobility data that does not contain individual rider information, and use data structures and APIs that do not store or transmit names, addresses, or other individual identifiers.
We only display maps, reports, and analyses that contain data sufficiently aggregated to prevent individuals from being re-identified.
We believe that even anonymized data about individual trips is sensitive, so we store and handle it in separated systems and with policies designed to maximize security.
We do not resell or share any trip data nor do we attempt to re-identify individuals in any anonymized datasets.
At Remix, it is our responsibility to minimize risk while ensuring that cities have the tools and accurate information to make informed decisions and deliver the transportation system their constituents need.
The terms and conditions that govern our work with cities require us to keep this kind of data safe and confidential. You can read our standard terms and conditions here.
Zero-degree weather welcomed 750 planners and vendors from 40+ states and 14 countries to the sixth annual Shared Mobility Summit in Chicago. As attendees removed their puffy jackets, conversations heated up on all topics related to shared mobility (ridehailing, carsharing, micromobility, mass transit, autonomous vehicles, e-scooters, etc.). Three major themes arose quickly across the 159 speakers and 30 breakout sessions: data, environment, and sharing. We recapped some of the highlights in this blog post.
DataPre-Conference Workshop: New Mobility Data Standards and Tools for Managing Public Space
Data was on everyone’s mind as they sat down to listen to Story Bellows (CityFi), Jascha Franklin-Hodge (Remix), and Kevin Webb (SharedStreets) discuss data standards. Almost immediately the discussion turned to the mobility data specification (MDS); an emerging data standard for mobility data developed by Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Ms. Bellows, principal at CityFi, helped the crowd understand an important distinction:
“MDS is not how you create policy. MDS is a framework on which a city can decide what policy is best for them.” -Story Bellows
Kevin Webb shared the mobility data aggregation tools that SharedStreets is developing for cities, and Jascha addressed privacy concerns around mobility data by breaking down what MDS is, what it is good for, what risks are associated with owning this data, and what responsible MDS handling looks like, concluding:
“Managing the public right of way is a city’s responsibility. Access to the data to do that is a right.” — Jascha Franklin-Hodge
Remix challenged attendees to take their learnings about mobility data and apply that to implementation scenarios. Teams worked together to determine how best to address new mobility disruption scenarios along real Chicago streets with data, policy, and design levers. How do we make sure the sidewalks remain uncluttered while also promoting the adoption of scooters? How can we design streets for fewer conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and increasing pick-up and drop-off activity? What data, design and policy interventions would you deploy?
Conference attendee, Justin Snowden, City of Detroit, shares his group’s policy, data, and design interventions.
Sean Wiedel, Assistant Commissioner at City of Chicago, added to the richness of the discussion by sharing some planned and implemented design interventions along the city’s high-crash corridors.
Sean Wiedel, Assistant Commissioner Chicago Department of Transportation, shares some recent Vision Zero efforts along State Street.Environment & Accessibility
New mobility technologies inspire us to think about what is possible. With the right technology we could more easily share rides and thus reduce congestion! We could potentially electrify fleets more quickly! We could depend on mobility as a service provider for trips as-needed and get rid of our cars and open up more land for development! As new mobility technologies hit the streets over the last five years, we’ve moved from discussions of potential impact to discussions of actual Impact, and the findings have been less than extraordinary in two key public policy areas: the environment and accessibility.”
Karen Tamely, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, shared that narratives around increased mobility from new mobility modes are wrong when it comes to those who need expanded mobility access most: people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often left behind in the rollout of new mobility business models, and she advised that the industry keep marginalized communities top of mind when developing rollout plans or programs.
Shelley Poticha from National Resources Defense Council and former senior political appointee in the Obama administration, pointed out that our carbon emissions are on the rise, particularly those from transportation, and called climate change an “existential crisis.” She implored planners to frame their initiatives with a sense of urgency, pushing for all the “moonshots” they can.
Shelley Poticha of NRDC’s urgency framework for transportation projects.
We see climate change as an existential crisis. Climate change is here, it’s affecting us today. We need to create a sense of urgency in our own work and make sure we are really thinking about who benefits and who is harmed by our solutions. — Shelley Poticha
Whether it’s sharing the roadway or sharing seats in a car, the concept of sharing remains a challenge — with our without additional technology.
Stephanie Pollack gave an energized speech that addressed the challenges she faces as Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, explaining that Departments of Transportation struggle to shift gears from their historic role of highway building to their new role as mobility agencies. Shifting gears means rejiggering priorities around infrastructure through the lens of getting people out of cars:
“Our job is to move more people in fewer vehicles. And we are bad at it. I call this the kindergarten problem. We are terrible at sharing. …We can sit here and talk about if scooters should ride on bike lanes or on sidewalks but the truth is most streets don’t have sidewalks OR bike lanes.” — Stephanie Pollack, CEO, MassDOT
This same sentiment was echoed by technologists and private providers alike. Tiffany Chu, a co-founder at Remix, spoke about the need to redesign our streets such that the private automobile is no longer the single most prioritized mode — we must consider and prioritize planning the multimodal roadway.
Tiffany Chu emphasizes the need to respond to new modes with multimodal infrastructure design and investment.
Anthony Foxx, former Transportation Secretary and current Chief Policy Officer at Lyft, stated that the technology and policy development around sharing is the easiest part. Sharing space is actually the greatest challenge.
This year’s Shared Mobility Summit was one of level-setting and introspection: can both vendors and public officials do better at encouraging the kinds of outcomes that are truly needed to fight climate change, increase accessibility, and reduce congestion? Each and every one of us in attendance left with a sense of urgency in our work and renewed devotion to push for better outcomes.
Last month, 18 planners from 8 transit agencies from around the state of Oregon spent their Valentine’s Day in Salem, Oregon at the first Remix Regional Workshop of 2019. In the halls of the Oregon Department of Transportation, the group spent the day training with Remix staff, sharing best practices and networking with their colleagues. While there is too much to share from the day, we wanted to relay some highlights.
Best practices roundtable
Our day opened with each attendee sharing a project underway or recently completed, both in and out of Remix. Many of the projects centered on House Bill 2017 — a $5.3 billion transportation funding package (also known as Keep Oregon Moving) that is, “…designed to target congestion, public transportation, crumbling roads, and decaying bridges.”
As part of the HB2017 funding application, agencies are required to create in-depth plans of what their system would look like with the injection of funding. Proposed plans are also required to included demographic information to ensure that low-income households are receiving adequate service. Several agencies shared Remix projects that were used to assist in the application process.
Hands-on training from Remix staff
Next, we moved into hands-on training sessions. Charlie, from the Remix Customer Success team, led users through the newest features, including map search, origin-destination data, and the new MapboxGL base map technology. There was also a sneak peek of the product roadmap and the planners in the room were asked to help prioritize which features should be built next.
Cherriots staff giving a tour of the Keizer Transit Center
Everyone spent the afternoon touring around the Cherriots transit network on one of their brand new CNG buses. It was great to see all the improvements being made to the system, including the Keizer Transit Center, which includes a green roof, solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, energy-efficient heating and cooling, and rain gardens.
We wrapped up the day with focused 1:1 training time followed by a reception downtown. Everyone left with an improved knowledge of Remix and new connections to colleagues from across the state.
The whole gang!
Let your Customer Success Manager know if you are interested in learning more about the Remix Regional Workshop series or where we might be stopping next.