Ford, Uber, and Lyft last week announced new partnerships with nonprofit organization SharedStreets to help cities make their streets safer, cleaner, and greener. The companies will share major road traffic datasets that municipalities can use to reduce accidents and emissions, manage curb space, and improve mobility for citizens.

SharedStreets is a platform that unifies data from private mobility companies and public city offices in a common language to facilitate efficient city planning. It launched in February through the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the Open Transport Partnership, and is already operating in 30 cities.

Each company’s relationship with SharedStreets has its own focus. Ford’s is curb space, a highly misused asset in many of America’s urban environments. The auto manufacturer will help develop a universal data standard for real-time curb demand and availability, allowing cities to raise or lower roadway parking prices based on usage. By doing so, cities can promote more sustainable transportation choices like carpooling, ride-sharing, or biking, which reduce both carbon footprint and congestion.

Uber will contribute to an open, global dataset of vehicle driving speeds. Using anonymous speed data from Uber-registered vehicles around the globe, cities can identify particularly dangerous stretches of road and redesign streets or install safety features like stop signs and speed bumps. Uber worked with SharedStreets earlier this year on one of the organization’s first projects analyzing curb usage in Washington, D.C., to push for more designated ride-hailing spaces .

Lyft will help elevate that initial curb analysis project to a global scale by collaborating on a universal model for curb usage data, focusing on pickups and drop-offs by for-hire vehicles. Lyft will also provide a driving speed dataset of its own.

The three partnerships indicate how open data policies and collaboration between the private and public sectors can lead to major improvements in city safety and efficiency. Safer streets and cleaner air mean more pedestrians, runners, and cyclists, who in turn represent a healthier populace and fewer cars clogging up roads.

Additionally, such initiatives are instrumental in preparing cities for the next generation of transportation technology offered by ride-hailing services and for-hire bicycles and scooters, which have been welcomed by the general public in recent years but have yet to threaten the personal vehicle as the primary mode of transit. With comprehensive data, city officials can widen access to public or alternative forms of transportation, especially in communities that rely on those methods. 

Photo Credit: Washington, D.C.’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles

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Posted by Andrew Foerch