The Role of Mobility Data Hubs in an Integrated Decarbonized Transportation Future

Published in: 2021 IEEE Green Technologies Conference Proceedings, pages 222–231 (2021). doi: 10.1109/GreenTech48523.2021.00100

Posted on RAND.org on November 05, 2021

by Stanley Young, Alex Schroeder, Venu Garikapati, Joseph Fish, Marjory S. Blumenthal

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The landscape for connected mobility ecosystems is evolving rapidly as information and communication technologies lower the cost and complexity of connecting people to places, integrating transportation modes and collecting data regarding such movements. These developments have been key to unlocking new business opportunities, particularly through mobility services. While the mechanisms for data collection, processing, and transfer have made significant advances in the past decade, the broader landscape of mobility data architectures and data users remains largely unresolved. It is unclear as to whether the result will converge towards a framework that resembles a coherent quilt or a disjointed patchwork of competing visions. Initial approaches to mobility data collection and provisioning have been largely siloed—by mode or software—or held for exclusive use, however several key players are quickly realizing the need and opportunities enabled through integrated mobility data eco-systems, or mobility data hubs as referred to in this paper. As the business case for hosting mobility data hubs evolves, there is great uncertainty regarding their impact to either advance or exacerbate sustainable mobility (e.g., seamless connectivity across modes, decreased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, etc.). Groups such as the United Nations and World Bank have identified data platforms as a key enabler of realizing environmental and social benefits. If designed with decarbonization in mind, we hypothesize that enhanced observability provided by these ever-expanding mobility data hubs can facilitate energy and emissions reductions that are otherwise limited by transactional barriers and knowledge asymmetry that is inherent to a more siloed approach. In this sense, integration of mobility data can help to create a competitive playing field where value is not determined by exclusivity of data, but rather the quality and uniqueness of a given service. The goals of this paper are to 1) identify key players and data architectures that are emerging in a service-based mobility market, 2) explore several use cases where mobility data hubs have enabled greater sustainability outcomes, and 3) discuss key issues that will need to be resolved to fully leverage emerging mobility data hubs towards a sustainable transportation future.

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