Manage Mobility Data for a More Accessible World
Mainstream transportation infrastructure and public services are predominantly designed for individuals who do not use mobility devices to navigate life. As tech companies connect transportation to apps, the services still target individuals without mobility issues or mobility devices. While this is not a bad thing, cheaper and smarter transportation options should also be factored in for individuals with disabilities.
Pew Research Center reported that 40 million Americans navigate life with a disability, and the largest percentage of that group are people with mobility-specific disabilities. On top of that, more than 6.8 million Americans use mobility devices such as scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs. As more and more people move to nearby cities, Pew estimates that by 2050 nearly one in seven people will be living with a disability.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) have created best practices for the management of mobility data, which can help to formulate how city streets are managed. While these services do not specifically target individuals with disabilities, the data they collect could provide a way for changes within the city’s transportation infrastructure.
With the increase of private transportation service providers operating in the public realm, such as Lyft or Waze, more and more data is being collected. This information must be protected by both cities and the providers to ensure the privacy of users.
Despite the anonymization of data collection, mobility data can easily be traced to individual users. This can be dangerous for every user. Mobility data is personally identifiable, placing users at risk for all matters of crime. However, cities and companies can avoid some data breaches with a few common sense approaches.
A Public Good
Private vendors operating within city limits and streets must provide these cities with data on how they are offering customer safety, equity, and mobility solutions. This information is critical for individuals with mobility issues since the information could help transportation become more accessible.
Geospatial mobility data should receive the same care as personally identifiable information. Also, critical for everyone, this is particularly important for individuals with disabilities as they are often more vulnerable.
Data should be collected with clear reasoning behind it. Whether used for planning, analysis, oversight, or enforcement purposes, knowing the why, what, and when about the data needed is important.
Cities and private companies should be able to easily share data to help support innovation throughout public and private sectors.
In theory, mobility data can provide information about the community of individuals who have disabilities and use mobility aids while using public transportation. This data, purposefully collected and portable, can reveal the gap in public transportation use for people with disabilities.
To make public transportation more accessible to everyone, vehicles must be designed with wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers in mind. While autonomous cars make the most sense for autonomous taxi services, the vehicles are most often electric and the battery is in the floor of the car, which means that these vehicles are unable to accommodate wheelchairs.
Managing mobility data and public transportation options for people with disabilities can be an added challenge. However, even with anonymous data, cities can be better informed for planning and regulating future public mobility services, learning how to best upgrade the infrastructure.
While knowing how to appropriately protect and use mobility data is important for society’s safety, data management opens up a door for better serving all individuals who need to get from point A to point B. At StrongGo, we believe in accessible pedestrian transportation for everyone so we are on the forefront of innovation, reliability, and durability for TekWay ADA Compliant Detectable Warning Dome Tiles for curb ramps as well as mass transportation platforms.