StreetLight Data launches new Multimodal Measurement Initiative to study travel interactions


Mobility analytics company StreetLight Data has officially launched its new Multimodal Measurement Initiative (M2Initiative) to measure the way all modes of travel interact with each other.

The M2Initiative aims to reveal the interaction of all forms of travel, including trips made by personal vehicles, public transit, walking, biking, commercial trucks, and even ‘gig economy’ trips made by on-demand rideshare and delivery drivers. As part of the M2Initiative, StreetLight Data is building a working group to collaborate on the issue of multimodal travel interactions.

The company is already engaged with select early-adopter partners and clients to deliver analytics for new modes. The M2Initiative partners include providers of mode-specific data sets, public agencies who want to lead in measuring new modes, academic institutions and private transportation companies that are exploring new business models. Several projects are already underway. StreetLight is accepting a limited number of additional partners and is actively seeking organizations that can contribute calibration or validation data.

StreetLight Data is working to provide the transportation industry with in-depth analytics that describe the mobility patterns of all modes of personal travel, as well as commercial trucks. In the first iteration of the M2Initiative, the company focused on bicycle, pedestrian, bus, train, and gig economy driving, which covers ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, plus delivery applications such as GrubHub and Postmates. It has already delivered several editions of these analytics to pilot clients and is accelerating the development of new analytics that describe the mobility behavior of each of these transportation modes individually. Importantly, the company is also prioritizing the creation of new tools that describe how these modes interact with each other, and their potential benefits for transportation planners.

“Interaction is what we care about,” said StreetLight Data’s CEO, Laura Schewel. “As a timely example, not many people care about electric scooters in the abstract. We care if they have a positive or negative impact on driving, pedestrian activity, or transit ridership. As we move forward into a world where you might expect to take six modes of transportation in a single day, and where new modes, including autonomous vehicles and aerial urban travel, are on the horizon, we must measure all of these new variables separately and together, to effectively manage them.”

Schewel continued, “On the same road we will have pedestrians, autonomous shuttles, ride-hailing rides, someone driving their car to drop off a lunch delivery then transforming back into a citizen on their way home from work, as well as gas-powered SUVs. Measuring the interaction of these factors is critical. We must ensure that we maximize the social and environmental gains that can come from all of these modes, but not fall prey to the potential dangers; dangers that can be exacerbated if we treat modes as unrelated.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).