How sharing mobility data improves safety, equity, and efficiency

From Detroit Driven, July 12, 2019

If "two heads are better than one," then sharing mobility data with stakeholders and even the public at large has the potential to catalyze important innovations in mobility technology. That's the premise behind a number of projects in metro Detroit that are collecting and sharing information about traffic infrastructure and the movements of cars, bikes, scooters, and other forms of transportation to improve efficiency, safety, and equity.

Steve Remias describes southeast Michigan as a "global leader" in collaborating on mobility solutions, but says data sharing in particular is just beginning to catch on. Remias is an assistant professor at Wayne State University's (WSU) College of Engineering and a member of WSU's CAR Lab, which focuses on developing technology to enable connected and autonomous driving. 

Steve Remias

Remias says CAR Lab and others at WSU are already collecting and sharing mobility data through a number of projects. He notes that companies everywhere in all fields, not just mobility, are collecting "terabytes on terabytes of data," but aren't using it to the fullest.

"For a really long time, we've been data-rich, but information-poor," he says. "That's where having shared data sets can tease out more of those information messages, as opposed to having billions and trillions of rows of data. We have all of this data, but to make it more valuable, we need to convert it into something agencies and academics can (use to create) some action items and provide value to the public."

Remias praises the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) for rethinking the data silo approach.

"SEMCOG has a very nice traffic data-sharing platform, using GIS, crash data, census data and other kinds of data on their website," he says. "It's a really nice platform for city planners and academics to use."

"There are still data silos in this mobility space where people collect their data and keep it close to the vest," he says. "However, in my 10 years of working in this area, individuals, academics, agencies, and industry have all started to realize that data sharing and getting the most out of the data is absolutely critical."

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