General Information

What is Los Angeles’s strategy for managing transportation in the Digital Age?

Published in 2016, Urban Mobility in a Digital Age is LADOT’s Transportation Technology Strategy. This document outlines LADOT’s toolbox to manage and invest in technologies that help us meet the goals presented in the Mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn, The City’s’s Vision Zero plan, and LADOT’s Strategic Plan. This approach also aligns with the mobility frameworks established in the Mobility Plan 2035 , NACTO’s Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism, and the principles for Transportation Happiness .

The LADOT Technology Action Plan (TAP) outlines how the City’s strategy is executed and is a guiding document which represents how LADOT views the future of transportation and its role within that future. The Technology Action Plan outlines a set of products and services that LADOT deems key to ensure that as new modes of transportation arrive on the ground and in the air, they are safe, equitable, and sustainable. It also signals a different way of doing business, publishing updates on a regular basis and endeavoring to build an ecosystem of public and private sector partners.

What is Shared Mobility?

Shared mobility – the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle or other mode – is an innovative transportation strategy that enables users to gain short-term access to transportation modes as-needed through use of an app or other method.

What is Dockless Mobility?

Dockless Mobility refers to any shared mode of transportation such as a bike or e-scooter, that does not require a dock (such as a bike rack) to start or end a rental. The dock is replaced by a mobile app and technology on the individual vehicles that both facilitates the user’s rental and unlocks the vehicle for use.

What is Active Management?

Active Management describes LADOT’s approach to using real-time digital communications to express mobility policies and regulation and govern the City’s right of way on our streets, sidewalks, curbs, and airspaces. LADOT is using digital tools (including the Mobility Data Specification) that allow us to connect anonymously and directly to vehicles using the right-of-way. Active Management can provide a variety of digital infrastructure services, such as digital parking, digital curb access, digital notifications for street closures, and directed public notifications. Today, LADOT is using Active Management to govern dockless shared scooters, bikes, taxis, and buses in accordance with policies and regulations set by City Council. Tomorrow, the same tools could assist in communicating with autonomous cars, drones, and whatever else the future holds.

What is Mobility Data Specification?

MDS one of the tools LADOT is using for Active Management, and defines a set of interfaces or the city to deliver digital services. MDS is a data standard and API specification that allows the City to engage in real time with mobility service providers (i.e. scooter, bikeshare, and rideshare companies) to provide a variety of digital infrastructure services, such as digital parking, digital curb access, digital notifications for street closures, and directed public notifications. MDS enables LADOT to actively manage service levels and better understand the implications of new technology deployments on our citizens, helping us create better overall mobility experience.

LADOT’s Approach to Data and Application Program Interfaces (APIs)

What is LADOT’s approach to data?

The LADOT earns data through its management of the public right-of-way. Data is earned either by providing digital services through Agency APIs or through the Provider API. In other words, in our role as regulators and mobility managers, we provide services that result in data. We store the data free of any personally identifiable information, and the City’s Information Technology Agency stores it securely along with other sensitive City records. You can also find our Information Handling Guidelines here

Los Angeles also provides robust data sets through the City’s Open Data Portal to enable broad use by the developer community. Further, LADOT uses data to recommend infrastructure investments and guide street designs.

What is a data specification?

A data specification is a standard to ensure a comprehensive and consistent way that different types of data are defined. Defining data the exact same way at different organizations allows for better interoperability when the technologies from each organization need to work together.

Similar to deciding on a common language for a conversation, setting up data specifications makes is easier for LADOT to digitally communicate with multiple Mobility Service Providers.

What is an API?

An application programming interface (API) works as a communication method between different types of technology components (such as between a websites, a desktop, and smartphone). You can also think of an API as a type of digital messenger that allows two applications to talk to each other. In this way, APIs serve as a key channel through which data is communicated.

Why is LADOT building APIs?

APIs make it easier for different software applications to work together, giving the City a better digital tool kit. Many newer types of mobility – from ridesharing to dockless bikes – are managed by connected, dynamic technology located on a mobile app or in the cloud. APIs give the City new ways to communicate with and manage mobility that go beyond our traditional traffic signals, signs, and paint.

Who uses these APIs?

LADOT will be developing and launching Application Program Interfaces for many types of users. This includes Mobility Service Providers and software developers that create tools to help LADOT manage the right of way.

What is GitHub and why is LADOT using it?

GitHub is an open software repository that makes it easy for developers to contribute to our code-based projects, helping to make these tools even better. Taking an open approach also allows LADOT to more easily share tools with other cities and government agencies.

What is Open Source and why is it important?

Open source is a term derived by software programmers that refers to open source code and software. This approach allows for universal access to a tool or product’s design, blueprint or code. LADOT is taking this approach to encourage feedback and innovation where others can improve upon our source code and share the changes within the community. This also allows LADOT to easily share these tools with other cities and government agencies.

How will LADOT’s open source projects be governed?

LADOT will be leveraging governance best practices from other successful open source projects. We are currently in the process of gathering input from our partners and collaborators to develop a best-in-class governance approach that benefits all stakeholders.

The Mobility Data Specification

Who can contribute to MDS?

Anyone with a Github account can comment, introduce new issues, or suggest improvements to the project. If you’re new to GitHub, take a look at their sign up instructions

How will MDS help Los Angeles?

MDS, or more broadly digital infrastructure, gives the City an efficient and cost effective way of managing the right of way for transportation modes enabled by technology. The Sustainable City pLAn, Mobility Plan, and Vision Zero plan envision mobility as a means of overcoming some of the steepest challenges the city faces: preventing climate change, saving lives, correcting socio-economic inequities, easing congestion, and improving public health outcomes. This type of digital management allows the City to provide new mobility options such that they remain an important component to personal mobility without being a danger or nuisance to the communities they serve. In short, elegant use of technology allows us to get to our goals faster, and at scale, than with concrete and asphalt alone. Both digital and analog infrastructure matter. We will need both to succeed.

Why is LA spearheading MDS?

With the ongoing explosion of technology in transportation, LADOT is committed to ensuring that everyone in our city benefits from these new mobility choices. Los Angeles is embracing new technologies and new modes to better serve the needs of everyone. We’re proud to lead the way for 21st Century mobility and are also working to help other cities and government agencies benefit from our innovation.

Where can I learn more about Mobility Data Specification?

You can download the MDS Overview  and also check out the recording and the presentation materials from our Technical MDS Webinar.

How do I access the Mobility Data Specification?

Check out MDS on GitHub. Anyone with a Github account can comment, introduce new issues, or suggest improvements to the project. If you’re new to GitHub, take a look at their sign up instructions.

How can I stay informed about MDS development?

To stay up to date on MDS releases, please subscribe to the MDS-Announce mailing list.

What is the difference between Provider API and Agency API?

The initial development of MDS consists of two key elements: Provider API and Agency APIs. Provider API is a standard for LADOT and Mobility Service Providers to share mobility data on both a real-time and a historical basis. This includes information such as vehicle location, trip durations, and service areas. Agency APIs offer methods for LADOT to provide real-time information such as digital street closures, parking restrictions, and more.

How is LADOT protecting citizen data and citizen privacy?

LADOT considers protecting citizen privacy as one of our highest goals and a core principle of MDS. Our interest is to avoid using data in an opaque and confusing manner. MDS collects vehicle information and LADOT has developed plain language for application users to understand how and why the City collects and uses data. LADOT is working with consumer privacy leaders to appropriately address GDPR and other privacy laws and to ensure an industry-leading approach.

For Mobility Service Providers

What is the permitting process for Dockless Mobility?

LADOT now has a Dockless On-Demand Personal Mobility Permit Program. Please go here for more details on the Permit Program. LADOT also introduced MDS to serve as digital interface between the City and Mobility Service Providers. A data standard and API specification, MDS enables LADOT to actively manage service levels and better understand the implications of new technology deployments on our citizens, helping us partner with you on better overall mobility experience.

How do I apply for a Dockless Mobility Permit?

How do I work with LADOT on a transportation technology pilot?

If you are a manager of a new type of vehicle that you would like to deploy into the right of way, please contact the LADOT Bureau of Transportation Technology at ladot.innovation@lacity.org

What is the Mobility Data Specification?

Please see a description in the Mobility Data Specification of this FAQ.

For Government Agencies

I’m a Government Agency and want to learn more about how I can contribute. Where should I go?

One of LADOT’s key collaborative efforts is the Mobility Data Specification (MDS), an open source project that involves contributions from cities, agencies, and mobility service providers. Contact us at ladot.innovation@lacity.org to learn more about how to contribute to MDS and other ways to collaborate.

As a Government Agency, how can I work with Mobility Service Providers get Mobility Data Specification-compliant data?

LADOT will be developing the key components of MDS in open source to encourage feedback and allow us share these tools with you. We do this by using GitHub, an open software repository that makes the MDS code available to you. This approach allows you to leverage MDS to set up your own set of tools or hire an third party agent to that can provide these tools to you.

Projects, Ideas & Feedback

What transportation technology projects are underway?

LADOT is testing and implementing a wide range of technology projects to find ways to make new technologies work for all of us. You can also find an overview of projects and initiatives on the Projects page and in LADOT’s Technology Action Plan.

I have an idea for something cool/helpful/interesting. How do I submit it?

We would love to hear about it. Please email us at the Bureau of Transportation Technology at ladot.innovation@lacity.org

I have feedback on a project. How do I submit it?

If your feedback in any way represents an emergency, please contact 911. If your feedback involves removal of an obstacle in the right of way, please contact us at 311. We would love to hear other types of feedback directly. Please email us the Bureau of Transportation Technology at ladot.innovation@lacity.org

For Developers

I am a Developer and want to learn more about how I can contribute. Where should I go?

LADOT is looking for feedback on the draft versions of our Mobility Data Specification (MDS) and we want your input! Comments can be made by making an Github Issue, while suggested changes can be made using a pull request.

I don’t know how to code but want to contribute. How do I get involved?

Github offers many ways to offer feedback or get involved, but if you prefer other means, we would encourage you to email us at ladot.innovation@lacity.org

How can I stay informed about MDS development?

To stay up to date on MDS releases, please subscribe to the MDS-Announce mailing list