Mobility and the Connected City: Effectively Managing Connected Mobility Marketplaces


As new innovations in mobility have entered the marketplace, local government leaders have struggled to adapt their regulatory framework to adequately address new challenges or the needs of the consumers of these new services. The good news is that the technology driving this rapid change also provides the means for regulating it: real-time data. It is the responsibility of cities to establish rules and incentives that ensure proper behavior on the part of mobility providers while steering service delivery towards creating better public outcomes. Cities must use the levers at their disposal to ensure an equitable mobility marketplace and utilize real-time data sharing to enforce compliance. These include investing in and leveraging physical and digital infrastructure, regulating and licensing business conducted in public space, establishing and enforcing rules around public safety, rethinking zoning and land use planning to be transit-oriented, and regulating the digital realm to protect data integrity.

The Opportunity: Data-Driven Regulation and Enforcement

The normal regulatory process for the last century involved identifying a public safety issue, holding hearings, and establishing rules (while rarely altering the basic foundational rules that were in place already). Identifying noncompliance was largely dependent on the observations of a safety officer or citizen. Today, new opportunities exist as the same technology breakthroughs that prove so disruptive to the urban transportation market also provide to public officials the tools necessary for proper enforcement. Data is the new regulatory currency involving such things as ride share, e-scooters, and dockless bikes. The data produced allows government to evaluate utilization, access, equity, proper parking locations, and more in real time and without human intervention. As city residents increase their dependence on these services, cities must leverage the data to develop new regulatory frameworks that encourage usage, while also steering connected mobility providers to develop business models invested in generating better public outcomes.

The expansion of IoT data sources, so long as they are accompanied by appropriate data privacy protections, furthers a broad range of enforcement reforms. Instead of requiring observation by an enforcement agent, data allows fees and fines to be levied based on locational data and IoT sensors. In this expanded enforcement framework, a scooter dropped in the wrong place or a TNC (transportation network company) driver caught on camera running a red light or endangering a pedestrian can trigger a fee automatically.

The bottom line is that connected mobility ecosystems, when leveraged and managed effectively by cities, produce cross-agency and public-private collaboration that enable cities to move from static, single-agency or -use regulation to a dynamic regulatory system that allows for modifications and enforcement of rules and regulations in real time. The availability of high-quality real-time data cascades through the many options available to the public.


About the Author

Stephen Goldsmith 

Stephen Goldsmith is the Derek Bok Professor of the Practice of Urban Policy and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. His latest book is Growing Fairly: How to Build Opportunity and Equity in Workforce Development.

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About the Author

Matthew Leger

Matt Leger is a Research Assistant for the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. He has a diversity of experiences in research across the public and private sectors, as well as in academia with a primary focus on understanding how technology can be used to help address some of society’s greatest challenges. Matt has worked with the Smart Cities Strategies team at the International Data Corporation (IDC); the NYCx team in the NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer; and at the research institute CTG-UAlbany. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration both from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany in Albany, NY.