Data specialists at the likes of Google know more about how citizens move around metros than their local government counterparts who build the roads, rails and pavements that facilitate transport, says Washington-based The Brookings Institution.
And while the private sector now tracks a vast amount of citizens’ movements, the public sector doesn’t always do the same with its vehicles, nor does it digitise spatial records like parcel maps. This is a missed opportunity, Brookings warns.
The institution points out that governments are merely playing catch-up when it comes data innovation, which is happening faster outside the public sector. “When public agencies are disconnected from the private sector’s innovative geospatial data creation, the exchange of best practices becomes limited,” it says.
Unsurprisingly, Brookings advocates public-private data sharing to close that gap and help city transport run more smoothly. Public agencies will also be able to cut costs and improve the automation of data collection and management.
However, The best data is often not sharable, with ride-hailing or telecommunications companies unlikely to risk competitive edge for relatively small sales to public agencies. “However, the asymmetrical data access will only grow in importance as private transportation service models grow in stature,” Brookings says.
Image: The Brookings Institution