How Remix Uses Data to Help Cities Manage Mobility

Tom Mercer

VP Product

At Remix, we believe that by providing powerful software tools to planners, we can improve the safety, equity, sustainability, and efficiency of transportation in their communities.

At Remix, our mission is to help build more livable cities. We believe that by providing powerful software tools to planners, we can improve the safety, equity, sustainability, and efficiency of transportation in their communities.

The power of our platform comes from analyzing transportation data from multiple sources and creating intuitive user interfaces to surface meaningful insights. Put another way: connecting the dots in a way that helps planners make more informed decisions. For transit planning, this means ingesting performance and route data from transit agencies to help them optimize their bus networks. For managing new forms of mobility like bikes and scooters, this means ingesting and analyzing private mobility data from companies who provide it to the city — as a condition of the permit they receive to operate on the public right-of-way.

Over the past four years, we’ve learned from our 350+ city partners that they do need the option to augment in-house technology teams with cloud software. With tools like Remix, cities can manage mobility programs and make data-driven decisions for their communities — e.g. assessing the effectiveness of permit rules, improving transportation equity, identifying opportunities to improve safety on high-conflict corridors, and many more.

What we do (and don’t do) with data

Some mobility data is sensitive, and cities must ensure that any technology company they work with that receives access to that sensitive information will be a good steward of it. Re-selling or improperly disclosing individual trip data would undermine public trust and individual privacy. From data breaches to deceptive business practices, large tech companies have shown how mishandling data can result in widespread abuse, and we believe that cities and their technology partners have a unique opportunity in the current moment to chart a more responsible course.

At Remix, we’ve done a great deal of thinking about reasonable limitations on the use of private mobility data that also ensures cities are adequately empowered to do their jobs. It needs to be a balance. Here’s how we articulate to our partners what we plan to do (and not do) with mobility data:

  1. We work on behalf of cities. Cities own or license the data from private mobility providers and share it with Remix so our platform can help them with analysis. We don’t have any ongoing right to the city’s data or private mobility data, and we delete all of it, including any city-specific insights, if our contract with the city ends.
  2. We don’t resell data. We do not resell or repackage private mobility data, and our city partners have control over how their data gets shared.
  3. We use the data to build software tools for cities. We listen to our city partners and use what we learn to build tools that can be used by many cities. This is a different model from consultants or custom development shops that build novel (and often expensive) products for each client. The software-as-a-service model lets a city anywhere in the world get started quickly with great software built with input and wisdom from peer cities, and also allows us to scale our work and have more impact.
  4. Our tools utilize algorithms and machine learning models. Mobility data is inherently noisy, so algorithms or machine learning models are necessary to create actionable insights that are useful for transportation departments. For example, our insights might recommend consideration of slow lanes to certain street segments (see below) or increasing vehicle caps to meet latent demand. We train these models on the mobility data of the cities we work with to ensure that they get insights that are specific for their city.
remix platform screenshot
In the future, Remix algorithms might suggest corridors to evaluate additional street infrastructure, such as a slow lane or protected bike lane — informed by data about micromobility usage (e.g. trips over time), safety (e.g. collision history), and more. Image by Loren Baxter.

5. We enable cities to share benchmarks and learnings with one another. One of the delights of working with so many cities is watching them learn from each other’s experiences. We facilitate more of that through what we call “Community Insights” — compiling aggregated, de-identified data sets and allowing cities see how their transportation system is performing compared to peer cities. We allow cities to opt into sharing these aggregated mobility insights among peers.

remix platform screenshot
Cities could opt-into aggregated benchmarks to help them evaluate and understand performance in context — by learning from each others’ policies, programs, and best practices. Image by Loren Baxter.

6. We advance collaboration between cities and private mobility companies. We’ve already seen the beginnings of what happens when cities and mobility providers communicate well. If all parties can align on a common view of the data and implement consistent and transparent definitions and metrics, it enables collaboration on more informed policies. All of this will improve adoption of innovative new modes and improve transportation outcomes for city residents.

To put legal weight behind these intentions, contracts between cities and their technology partners should strongly limit secondary use of data, while still allowing for the tools cities need to effectively manage mobility services. For reference and transparency, we’ve published the following pieces:

We at Remix are strongly committed to helping cities use data to deliver better transportation services for their communities. We believe that cities can deliver on those outcomes, while also setting a high bar for data privacy and stewardship that the private sector can emulate.