This e-scooter business is escalating into being much more than about when and where Uber and Lyft and others’ e-scooters should be ridden in crowded cities. Example A: Los Angeles.
Behind the scenes a Big Data war being fought. Tracking every single move of the scooters, the vendors sit on troves of traffic data. Ride-share vehicle traffic data, too.
Cities want that data to help manage congestion and the streets. The companies prefer to guard it as proprietary, none of the cities’ business. Is there a threat to customer privacy? That’s debatable.
Matters have come to a head in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT, a very big and sophisticated agency) is suspending Uber’s Jump brand e-scooter permit for withholding the data. Lyft and Bird have complied. Uber, resisting, is going to court.
“LADOT has the responsibility to manage the public right-of-way, ensuring safety and access for everyone. To be effective, the department requires reasonable information about the tens of thousands of shared vehicles operated by transportation technology companies that use our streets for profit.”
Bliss adds: “Grab the popcorn. This is a major power struggle over the future of city streets, and it’s just getting started.”