Enhancing Shared Micromobility with Data Standards: MDS as Industry Best Practice

July 5, 2023

Shared micromobility services have taken off in popularity since 2018, helping transform urban transportation by providing riders with mobility options that prioritize convenience and environmental sustainability. Recently, a document endorsed by leading micromobility companies including Bird, Lime, Spin, and Superpedestrian, highlighted several best practices for the North American micromobility industry. This mirrored recommendations to European cities released earlier this year by Bird, Dott, Lime, Superpedestrian, and Voi. Among the recommendations, the importance of standardized data sharing through the Mobility Data Specification (MDS) and the General Bikeshare Feed Specification (GBFS) was emphasized. These specifications were purposefully developed to meet cities’ policy needs while allowing for seamless collaboration with operators of shared mobility services.

“Standardized data specifications like MDS and GBFS were developed by cities to manage shared scooters and bikes. These standards have been thoughtfully developed and curated over time to meet cities’ needs,” said a spokesperson for one of the four companies. “They enable cities to collaborate and share best practices around data analyses and program regulations, while allowing both operators and data aggregators to provide high-quality dashboards and tools in a scalable, replicable, and robust way. With MDS and GBFS, shared micromobility operators can focus on the program fundamentals of delivering a high quality service, rather than spending staff time preparing ad-hoc requests that differ from city to city.”


The Power of Standardized Data

As an open source data specification, MDS offers numerous benefits for cities, operators, and data aggregators. By using MDS, operators can focus on the core aspects of delivering a high-quality service rather than allocating significant staff time to fulfill ad-hoc data requests that vary across different cities.

For cities, MDS enables uniform and automated data submission, providing valuable insights for monitoring and evaluation. This standardized approach eliminates the need for cities to deal with multiple data formats and incompatible systems, simplifying the analysis process and empowering evidence-based decision-making.

Additionally, data specifications help prioritize rider privacy and data security. Data is derived from vehicles, not riders, and the OMF’s Privacy Committee provides robust guidance and resources for cities to protect data privacy and security. This shared commitment to privacy can help foster trust between cities, operators, and riders, promoting the long-term sustainability of shared micromobility programs.


Driving Collaboration and Scalability

One of the key advantages of MDS is that it is free to use and built in an open-source environment. This means that cities and mobility providers worldwide can adopt, implement, and continue to develop MDS, co-creating a common language for sharing mobility data. The forum for collaborative development created by the OMF allows cities and companies to exchange insights and best practices, creating a knowledge-sharing network that benefits the entire industry. By learning from one another’s experiences, cities can implement effective regulations and optimize their micromobility programs.

Furthermore, these specifications support scalability and replicability. With MDS, data aggregators and operators can develop high-quality dashboards and tools that can be easily implemented across multiple cities. This scalability ensures that cities can efficiently manage their shared micromobility programs as the industry grows and evolves.


The Future of Micromobility

As the micromobility industry continues to grow and mature, data specifications like MDS and GBFS play a crucial role in driving its success. These specifications enable seamless collaboration, empower evidence-based decision-making, prioritize rider privacy, and foster industry-wide collaboration. By embracing standardized data sharing, cities, operators, and data aggregators can collectively build sustainable and well-managed shared micromobility systems for the future.

To learn more about MDS, visit our resource hub or get in touch.

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