Global Coalition of Cities Comes Together To Study Mobility


A global coalition of cities has joined forces to study mobility. The Open Mobility Foundation will use open-source technology to study and provide recommendations on how best to handle emergent forms of transportations including e-scooters, rideshares, bikeshares, and others.

The foundation has engaged a broad range of city and municipal organizations, private companies, non-profit groups, experts and advocates to think broadly about how cities can respond to changing mobility dynamics.

The groundwork for the foundation was laid by officials at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the city of Santa Monica. Both cities have seen the number of mobility options available to residents grow rapidly in recent years. The OMF will govern a platform called “Mobility Data Specification” (MDS) that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation developed to help manage dockless micro-mobility programs (including shared dockless e-scooters). MDS is comprised of a set of APIs that create standardized communications between cities and private companies to improve their operations. The APIs also allow cities to collect data that can inform real-time traffic management and public policy decisions to enhance safety, equity and quality of life.  OASIS will host the platform.

“Cities are always working to harness the power of technology for the public good. The Open Mobility Foundation will help us manage emerging transportation infrastructures, and make mobility more accessible and affordable for people in all of our communities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves as Advisory Council Chair of Accelerator for America, which showcased the MDS platform early on.

The other founding members of the OMF include – Austin, Texas; Bogotá, Colombia; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Miami; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Minneapolis; New York City Department of Transportation; New York City Taxi and Limo Commission; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Washington D.C.

In addition to cities and public agencies, the Open Mobility Foundation is founded in part by The Rockefeller Foundation. The Open Mobility Foundation is also backed by micro-mobility operators such as Bird and Spin as well as technology companies such as Microsoft, Blue Systems and Stae. OMF is supported by advisors that include the International Association of Public Transport, Transportation for America, MetroLabs and the NewCities Foundation.

The foundation says it is primarily focused on four areas of mobility study:

1) Increasing Safety. Cities need tools to manage and measure new transportation modes in order to ensure the safety of their residents and reach the goals of Vision Zero.

2) Ensuring Equity. Cities need tools to ensure mobility technologies do not create or exacerbate inequality. New forms of transportation should be accessible and affordable to all residents.

3) Improving Quality of Life. Cities need tools to ensure transportation options do not impede sidewalks or increase roadway congestion and add to the sustainability and safety of our urban environment.

4) Protecting Privacy. Cities need tools that enable them to generate and analyze data through the mobility services they provide while also adhering to world-class privacy and data security standards.

The foundation says that it is open to new applicants and cities are encouraged to apply.