City transportation officials can analyze data from shared-mobility services and learn a lot about the movement of people and goods on public streets and sidewalks. Maybe too much.
Data harvested from ride-hailing, scooter and e-bike services can pinpoint trouble spots for road safety and identify places bike lanes are needed. It can also create privacy concerns, and riders have grown wary about their whereabouts being shared with local governments.
Navigating the crossroads of individual privacy and public benefit has been tricky business. Now comes an effort to establish a middle ground.
The Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington nonprofit that explores privacy challenges in the technology and data realms, has created an assessment and published guidance intended to help city officials, private companies and others forge policies around data-sharing and privacy.
"Sharing mobility data is not something we're going to cut off, and there's a lot of valid reasons for this data to be shared," said Chelsey Colbert, policy counsel at Future of Privacy Forum and lead on the project. "So if this is the universe we're operating in, it's a great approach to enable data-sharing in a responsible way that protects individual privacy and communities' interests and encourages transparency."