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openmobilityfoundation
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A data standard to enable two-way communication between mobility companies and local governments.

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Mobility Data Specification

Table of Contents

About

The Mobility Data Specification (MDS), a project of the Open Mobility Foundation (OMF), is a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) focused on shared mobility services such as dockless scooters, bicycles, mopeds, and carshare, and inspired by projects like GTFS and GBFS. MDS is a digital tool that helps cities better manage transportation in the public right of way, standardizing communication and data-sharing between cities and private mobility providers, allowing cities to share and validate policy digitally, and enabling vehicle management and better outcomes for residents.

MDS is a key piece of digital infrastructure that supports the effective implementation of mobility policies in cities around the world. For a high level overview and visuals, see the About MDS page on the OMF website.

MDS Main Logo

MDS is an open-source project originally created by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). In November 2019, stewardship of MDS and the ownership of this repository were transferred to the Open Mobility Foundation. GitHub automatically redirects any links to this repository from the

CityOfLosAngeles
organization to the
openmobilityfoundation
instead. MDS continues to be used by LADOT and many other municipalities and companies.

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Endpoints

MDS is comprised of six distinct APIs, with multiple endpoints under each API:

MDS Provider Icon

The

provider
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by mobility providers and consumed by regulatory agencies. When a municipality queries information from a mobility provider, the Provider API has a historical view of operations in a standard format. It was first released in June 2018.


MDS Agency Icon

The

agency
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by regulatory agencies and consumed by mobility providers. Providers query the Agency API when events (such as a trip start or vehicle status change) occur in their systems. It was first released in April 2019.


MDS Policy Icon

The

policy
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by regulatory agencies and consumed by mobility providers. Providers query the Policy API to get information about local rules that may affect the operation of their mobility service or which may be used to determine compliance. It was first released in October 2019.


MDS Geography Icon

The

geography
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by regulatory agencies and consumed by mobility providers. Providers query the Policy API to get information about geographical regions for regulatory and other purposes. It was first released in October 2019, originally included as part of the Policy specification.


MDS Jurisdiction Icon

The

jurisdiction
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by regulatory agencies that have a need to coordinate with each other. The jurisdiction endpoints allow cities to communicate boundaries between one another and to mobility providers. It was first released in March 2021.


MDS Metrics Icon

The

metrics
API endpoints are intended to be implemented by regulatory agencies or their appointed third-party representatives to have a standard way to consistently describe available metrics, and create an extensible interface for querying MDS metrics. It was first released in March 2021.


Modularity

MDS is designed to be a modular kit-of-parts. Regulatory agencies can use the components of the API that are appropriate for their needs. An agency may choose to use only

agency
,
provider
, or
policy
. Other APIs like
geography
,
jurisdiction
, and
metrics
can be used in coordination as described with these APIs or sometimes on their own. Or agencies may select specific elements (endpoints) from each API to help them implement their goals. Development of the APIs takes place under the guidance of the OMF's MDS Working Group.

Many parts of the MDS definitions and APIs align across each other. In these cases, consolidated information can be found on the General Information page.

You can read more in our Understanding the different MDS APIs guide.

MDS APIs and Endpoints

GBFS Requirement

All MDS compatible Provider feeds must also expose a public GBFS feed. Compatibility with GBFS 2.0 or greater is advised due to privacy concerns and support for micromobility. See our MDS Vehicles Guide for how MDS Provider

/vehicles
can be used by regulators instead of the public GBFS
/free_bike_status
. Additional information on MDS and GBFS can be found in this guidance document.

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Get Involved

To stay up to date on MDS, please subscribe to the mds-announce mailing list for general updates, the wg-mds mailing list for Working Group details and meetings, and read our Community Wiki.

The Mobility Data Specification is an open source project with all development taking place on GitHub and public meetings through our MDS Working Group. Comments and ideas can be shared by starting a discussion, creating an issue, suggesting changes with a pull request, and attending meetings. Before contributing, please review our OMF CONTRIBUTING and CODE OF CONDUCT pages to understand guidelines and policies for participation.

Read our How to Get Involved in the Open Mobility Foundation blog post for more detail and an overview of how the OMF is organized.

For other questions about MDS or media inquiries please contact the OMF directly on our website.

Membership

OMF Members (public agencies and commercial companies) have additional participation opportunities with leadership roles within our OMF governance:

Read about how to become an OMF member, how to get involved and our governance model, and contact us for more details.

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Versions

MDS has a current release (version 1.2.0), previous releases (both recommended and longer recommended for use), and upcoming releases in development. For a full list of releases, their status, recommended versions, and timelines, see the Official MDS Releases page.

The OMF provides guidance on upgrading for cities, providers, and software companies, and sample permit language for cities. See our MDS Version Guidance for best practices on how and when to upgrade MDS as new versions become available. Our complimentary MDS Policy Language Guidance document is for cities writing MDS into their operating policy and includes sample policy language.

Technical Information

The latest MDS release is in the

main
branch, and development for the next release occurs in the
dev
branch.

The MDS specification is versioned using Git tags and semantic versioning. See prior releases and the Release Guidelines for more information and version support.

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Cities Using MDS

More than 150 cities and public agencies across 6 continents around the world use MDS, and it has been implemented by most major mobility service providers.
- See our list of cities using MDS with links to public mobility websites and policy/permit documents.

Please let us know via our website or in the public discussion area if you are an agency using MDS so we can add you to the city resource list, especially if you have published your policies or documents publicly.

To add yourself to the agency list and add your Policy Requirement link, please let us know via our website or open an Issue or Pull Request. Find out how in our Adding an Agency ID help document.

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Providers Using MDS

Over two dozen mobility service providers (MSPs) around the world use MDS, allowing them to create tools around a single data standard for multiple cities.

To add yourself to the provider list, please let us know via our website or open an Issue or Pull Request. Find out how in our Adding an Provider ID help document.

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Software Companies Using MDS

An open source approach to data specifications benefits cities and companies by creating a space for collaborative development, reducing costs, and nurturing a healthy, competitive ecosystem for mobility services and software tools. The open model promotes a competitive ecosystem for software tools built by dozens of software companies providing their services to cities, agencies, and providers.

Please let us know if you are using MDS in your company so we can add you to the list.

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Data Privacy

MDS includes information about vehicles, their location, and trips taken on those vehicles to allow agencies to regulate their use in the public right of way and to conduct transportation planning and analysis. While MDS is not designed to convey personal information about the users of shared mobility services, data collected about mobility can be sensitive. The OMF and MDS community have created a number of resources to help cities, mobility providers, and software companies handle vehicle data safely:

  • MDS Privacy Guide for Cities - guide that covers essential privacy topics and best practices
  • The Privacy Principles for Mobility Data - principles endorsed by the OMF and other mobility organizations to guide the mobility ecosystem in the responsible use of data and the protection of individual privacy
  • Mobility Data State of Practice - real-world examples related to the handling and protection of MDS and other types of mobility data
  • Understanding the Data in MDS - technical document outlining what data is (and is not) in MDS
  • Use Case Database - a starting point for understanding how MDS can be used, and what parts of MDS is required to meet those use cases
  • Policy Requirements - built into MDS, allowing agencies to specify only the endpoints and fields needed for program regulation
  • Using MDS Under GDPR (link coming soon) - how to use MDS in the context of GDPR in Europe

The OMF’s Privacy, Security, and Transparency Committee creates many of these resources, and advises the OMF on principles and practices that ensure the secure handling of mobility data. The committee – which is composed of both private and public sector OMF members – also holds regular public meetings, which provide additional resources and an opportunity to discuss issues related to privacy and mobility data. Learn more here.

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Use Cases

How cities use MDS depends on a variety of factors: their transportation goals, existing services and infrastructure, and the unique needs of their communities. Cities are using MDS to create policy, enforce rules, manage hundreds of devices, and ensure the safe operation of vehicles in the public right of way. Some examples of how cities are using MDS in practice are:

  • Vehicle Caps: Determine total number of vehicles per operator in the right of way
  • Distribution Requirements: Ensure vehicles are distributed according to equity requirements
  • Injury Investigation: Investigate injuries and collisions with other objects and cars to determine roadway accident causes
  • Restricted Area Rides: Find locations where vehicles are operating or passing through restricted areas
  • Resident Complaints: Investigate and validate complaints from residents about operations, parking, riding, speed, etc, usually reported through 311
  • Infrastructure Planning: Determine where to place new bike/scooter lanes and drop zones based on usage and demand, start and end points, and trips taken

A list of use cases is useful to show what's possible with MDS, to list what other cities are accomplishing with the data, to see many use cases up front for privacy considerations, and to use for policy discussions and policy language. More details and examples can be seen on the OMF website and our Wiki Database.

Please let us know if you have recommended updates or use cases to add.

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Related Projects

Community projects are those efforts by individual contributors or informal groups that take place outside Open Mobility Foundation’s formalized process, complementing MDS. These related projects often push new ideas forward through experimental or locally-focused development, and are an important part of a thriving open source community. Some of these projects may eventually be contributed to and managed by the Open Mobility Foundation.

The OMF's Communitiy Projects page has an every growing list of projects related to MDS, and see our Privacy Committee's State of Practice for more examples.

Please let us know if you create open source or private tools for implementing or working with MDS data.

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