This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

Later that fall, Los Angeles launched an open-source data standard and software system designed to hold sway over these new operators. Known as the “mobility data specification,” or MDS, the platform collects information from discrete vehicle trips in near real time, and lets the city communicate back to operators.

Right now, it’s only being used by “micromobility” companies: In order to keep its sidewalks clear of stray dockless scooters and bikes, L.A. requires operators to send start and stop locations of individual vehicle trips back to City Hall, within five seconds, in addition to the routes they traveled within 24 hours. Eventually, all kinds of current and future transportation forms—from ride-hailing and car-sharing to delivery drones and autonomous vehicles—could fall under the omniscient gaze of the MDS platform.