FAQS

About the Open Mobility Foundation

What is the Open Mobility Foundation?

The Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) is an open-source software foundation that governs a platform called the “Mobility Data Specification” (MDS). MDS is comprised of a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and code projects that enable standard communications between cities and users of the public right-of-way (i.e. e-scooter companies or city-run bus services) to improve safety and protect residents. Now used by over 50 cities, MDS was originally developed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to help manage dockless micro-mobility programs (including shared dockless e-scooters).

Led by cities, the OMF also is designed to understand and take on technical issues surrounding emerging mobility technology in communities nationwide. By bringing together stakeholders including municipalities, companies, technologists, and experts, the Foundation will shape urban mobility management tools that help people move safely, efficiently, and effectively.

What is the Open Mobility Foundation’s mission?

The Open Mobility Foundation’s mission is to transform the way cities manage transportation infrastructure in the modern era using well-designed, open-source technology.

The OMF is founded on a core set of principles, which you can view here.

What are the benefits of OMF?

Transparent Governance for Public Benefit: The Open Mobility Foundation convenes a new kind of public-private forum to seed new ideas. OMF’s unique leadership structure also enables it to transparently govern and evolve MDS to provide the highest benefit to the largest number of people, from sustainability to privacy-protective measures to safety outcomes.

Collaboration: OMF offers a collaborative environment for municipalities, civic nonprofits, corporate stakeholders, subject experts, and the public to work together in order to solve emerging transportation challenges that affect communities across the country, such as ensuring safety, equity, protection of individual data and quality of life.

A Playbook for Innovation: Private companies scale best when cities can offer a consistent playbook for innovation. Already in use in over 50 cities, MDS provides a consistent set of standards for public agencies and mobility providers to communicate digitally, improving the outcomes for cities, users, and companies across the country.

Better Urban Transportation Outcomes: Most importantly, by providing open access to cutting-edge digital tools, the OMF enables increased convenience, sustainability, new business opportunities, and more options for affordable transportation – ideally allowing every resident to access all the transportation services a city offers.

Why is OMF led by cities?

Cities are accountable to the public, and have an interest in making sure that their residents are being served in a way that is safe and equitable, and improves their quality of life while protecting individuals’ privacy rights. With new challenges and new tools around mobility technology emerging in cities across the country, municipalities are well-positioned to collaborate and convene stakeholders in order to find technology solutions that serve the public good.

What’s the leadership of the Open Mobility Foundation?

The leadership of the Open Mobility Foundation consists of the Board of Directors and an Executive Director that work with all our members and contributors to ensure that the vision and mission of the Foundation are fulfilled.

The founding municipal members of the coalition are Austin, Bogotá, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Miami Dade, Minneapolis, New York City DOT, New York City Taxi and Limo Commission, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Washington DC. Other municipal members will be solicited throughout the life of the Foundation.

In addition to cities and public agencies, the Open Mobility Foundation is founded in part by The Rockefeller Foundation — a premier science-driven philanthropy focused on promoting the well-being of humanity throughout the world.

How is the Open Mobility Foundation governed?

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors that consists of public entities that are responsible for managing the public right-of-way. This allows cities both ownership and authority over the strategic and operational aspects of the Foundation. The Foundation is structured so that all members, including Public members, Non-Public members (such as commercial organizations and nonprofit partners), may contribute to projects or be appointed as a liaison to a committee. The OMF’s approach to projects is described in more detail below.

The Open Mobility Foundation recognizes the importance of harnessing the  global community of researchers and academic institutions to address the transportation and mobility priorities facing cities.

Is the Open Mobility Foundation a global organization?

The Foundation is a global organization – the challenges facing cities today are not limited by national borders. We continue to see tremendous interest from cities around the world in both the Open Mobility Foundation and MDS.

How is it funded?

The Open Mobility Foundation is funded by a mix of donations and membership dues.

Membership

Who is part of the Open Mobility Foundation?

The Open Mobility Foundation is designed to include cities and municipalities, nonprofit organizations, companies, experts, and community groups that are stakeholders in conversations around emerging mobility technology. Please visit our Members page for a current list and to find out more about joining.

How do I join as an individual?

As an open-source software foundation, the Open Mobility Foundation welcomes a variety of methods of participation and contribution. Interested individuals can become Contributors, who participate in activities like software development or working in committees that focus on issues related to the Open Mobility Foundation’s mission.

To become a Contributor, an individual reviews and signs the Contributor Guidelines. These guidelines ensures that Contributors abide by the OMF Bylaws, the OMF Code of Conduct, and ensures that the work contributed to OMF by an individual can be redistributed as open source code, or as documents that can be used by others.

While the OMF board has ultimate authority on all tools, processes, and projects that are part of the Foundation, Contributors may submit, create, review, or edit any software, documentation, and test cases under the Foundation’s purview.

Everything that Contributors develop or contribute is licensed under a permissive, free license.  For code and API definitions contributions are licensed under the terms of the Apache 2.0 Software License.   For documents, contributions are licensed under the terms of the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Please visit our Get in Touch page on our website for more details.

How do I join as an organization?

Please visit our Get in Touch page on our website for more information.

How do I join as a city or public agency?

Please visit our Get in Touch page on our website for more information.

Projects

What types of projects will OMF focus on?

The primary work product of the Foundation is the governance and development open-source software and related APIs that make up MDS. The OMF will create and manage a set of model policies, privacy and data security, procurement, and technical guidelines that inform the development and implementation of MDS in cities.

Is OMF just about scooters?

The Open Mobility Foundation is about more than just scooters. Whether because of the growth of popularity of online shopping and on-demand food delivery, or the introduction of new modes such as shared scooters, the number and type of vehicles using the existing public right-of-way continues to rise in cities across the country.

The Open Mobility Foundation supports the development and broad deployment of a common, open-source software platform that allows cities to fulfill their multiple responsibilities for safety, limiting congestion, promoting commerce, ensuring the protection of individual data, and improving the quality of life in age of digitally-driven transport.

OASIS & Open Source Software

Who is OASIS?

The Open Mobility Foundation is partnered with and hosted by OASIS, a leader in open-source and software standards industry.  One of the most respected, member-driven standards bodies in the world, OASIS offers projects—including open source projects—a path to standardization and de jure approval for reference in international policy and procurement. OASIS has a broad technical agenda encompassing cybersecurity, privacy, cryptography, cloud computing, and IoT.

What is Open Source software?

Open source is an approach to software that allows for universal access to a tool or product’s design, blueprint, or code. The goal in taking this approach is to share tools, spur innovation, and encourage feedback so that a wide range of stakeholders and providers can work together to improve the source code and collectively create changes within a software community.

How does an Open Source foundation work?

The Open Mobility Foundation is an open source software foundation, similar to established foundations such as the Linux Foundation, the Apache Foundation, and the OpenStack Foundation. The primary objective of an open-source foundation is to provide a safe, open, efficient environment for people to come together to solve problems by building free software.

Why an Open Source Foundation?

An open-source foundation enables a city-led approach to the development and deployment of open-source software platforms that provide cities with information, technology and capability to fulfill their responsibilities of improvement of safety, minimization of congestion, promotion of commerce, and improvement of residents’ quality of life.

The Foundation also creates partnership with private and nonprofit entities, in a way that establishes checks and balances to develop open-source software solutions to address the common challenges that all cities face. An open-source foundation also provides structure and transparency through consistent policies for community collaboration, modification, documentation, intellectual property, and licensing.

Data & Privacy

How does the OMF view privacy?

The Open Mobility Foundation is committed to prioritizing privacy as a critical component of any mobility management solution. Mobility data provides key information that is germane to effective policy-making and management — ensuring the responsible collection and privacy protective handling of vehicle information is a vital component.  

The protection of individual privacy is elevated within OMF and foundational as a  key mission of the Foundation. The Foundation by laws include the creation of a Public Trust and Transparency Committee (PTTC) whose mission is to design and develop tools and policies to protect individual privacy.  

Core to its mission, the PTTC will bring together experts to develop and contribute  thoughtfully designed features to enable responsible and trustworthy data management practices that serve individual privacy, security, transparency and public trust.

About MDS

What is MDS?

MDS – or “Mobility Data Specification” – is comprised of a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that create standard communications between cities and private companies to improve their operations. The APIs allow cities to access data that can inform real-time traffic management and public policy decisions to enhance safety, equity, and quality of life.

Over the last two years, cities like Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Jose, and Austin built MDS – an open-source software to manage scooters and other new forms of transport – to help manage dockless micro-mobility programs (including dockless e-scooters).

How many cities use MDS?

More than 50 cities across the United States — and dozens across the globe — already use MDS to manage micro-mobility services.

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