MDS Release 1.2: Receive the data you need (and nothing more)

Dec 8, 2021 5:58:51 PM / by Corrine Murray

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The Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) recently approved the 1.2 Release for the Mobility Data Specification (MDS). Included in this release is Policy Requirements, “a new endpoint in Policy for agencies to describe program requirements digitally to allow operators and the public to see what MDS and GBFS versions, APIs, endpoints, and fields are required.” This release feature enables the data privacy principle of data minimization - what is the smallest amount of data needed to get the job done?

What is MDS Policy Requirements?

The data provided via MDS is vast and can meet a wide range of use cases that a governing agency may have. There are many different types of cities, each with their own needs and comfort levels when it comes to handling data (for example, cities in Europe require GDPR compliance). 


An individual city may not need access to all of the raw data that MDS provides and, for the sake of privacy, might not want to deal with ingesting, storing, deleting it. With Requirements, cities are able to use the parts of MDS they need, without receiving it all.  In turn, operators will send only what the city requests, effectively rightsizing the data. 


Another significant element of the feature is that these requirements are shared publicly. Now when an agency identifies the data they need to meet a use case, the public can understand exactly what data that agency is receiving. This will help foster robust, public conversations about the necessity and safety of the data being used. This brings new transparency to how cities are managing their shared mobility programs, and the data that comes with it. 


What Policy Requirements means for shared mobility programs

Shared mobility programs generate an abundance of valuable data sets. Managing these sensitive data sets requires trust and accountability from the public. In the same way public agencies are transparent about other important policies and practices (e.g. non discrimination policies, etc.), the public will expect agencies to be forthcoming with how these data sets are handled. 


With Policy Requirements, agencies are able to garner the trust needed from the public to ensure that their shared mobility programs can flourish. By bringing data collection practices into the public process, agencies are able to avoid criticism surrounding their data privacy practices.


Ride Report’s commitment to privacy

At Ride Report, we believe that digital regulation needs to prioritize privacy, which is why we are pleased to have contributed to this Policy Requirements release. Our vision to help cities bring transparency and public accountability around the data they collect and why they collect it informed our contributions. To bring this vision to life, our team worked with key stakeholders from OMF, including PBOT, Austin, SFMTA, Superpedestrian, and Spin to determine specific use cases and write the proposal. We look forward to future iterations and updates that continue prioritizing data privacy.


Don’t miss our upcoming webinar!

Are you interested in learning more about the MDS Requirements release and how it relates to data privacy? Join our panelists Alex Demisch of SFMTA, Emmet McKinney of Superpedestrian, Heather Buletti of Ride Report, and Jascha Franklin-Hodge of OMF on December 15th, at 12pm PST for a webinar on the privacy improvements that the Policy Requirements release brings to MDS.



Tags: MDS

Corrine Murray

Written by Corrine Murray