How Micromobility companies can create greater public value?

Micromobility companies on one hand create great public value but on the other hand sometimes fail to not only create value but, in fact, can create harm. We believe that sub-meter GPS will play a crucial role to create greater public value.

By Jeremy Strickland

Photo by Marat Mazitov

When we think of micromobility firms, we envision brightly-colored scooters and e-bikes dispersed around cities at major tourist and transit locations. However, we often overlook the tremendous public value that these micromobility solutions create.

For those unfamiliar with the term public value, I would encourage that you spend some time reviewing the work of Harvard Professor, Mark H. Moore. Professor Moore defines public value as the utility that organization contributes to society. To our team at Navmatic, this simple but important concept ties together the role of the private enterprise and the impact that enterprise has on society at large.

To this end, millennials and public officials demand more from companies now more than ever. Firms should not only be measured by the private value (i.e. profits) that they generate, but also their larger contribution to the public good. In a nod to economist Milton Freidman, the days of myopic focus on creating additional profits have passed.

We want to buy from and use products that align with ethics and values. Offering a superior product or service in itself is no longer enough. Companies must balance high-performance with high-integrity.

Applying these principles to the micromobility industry, we see two major ways in which create meaningful public value:

  • First and Last Mile Transportation: Scooters and e-bikes play a critical role in first and last mile transportation, allowing users to move short to moderate distances without relying on transportation network companies (e.g. Uber and Lyft) or traditional taxi services.

  • Decreased Emissions & Congestion: Scooters and e-bikes emit much less CO2 than cars and other motorized vehicles; thereby, promoting cleaner and, obviously, more fuel-efficient transportation.

Additionally, micromobility companies also generate revenue for the city in the form of operating licences, fines and

Photo by Alvaro Reyes fees, and tax revenue. While not direct public value, nonetheless, these considerations remain important.

However, current micromobility options sometimes fail to not only create value but, in fact, can create harm.

That’s what we recently witnessed in Dallas, which banned scooters from operating within the city limits. In its decision, the Dallas City Council cited that scooter providers failed to follow its Dockless Vehicle Ordinance, resulting in public safety concerns and hodge-podge of tipped over scooters on sidewalks.

We, at Navmatic, believe that our solution, of sub-meter level GPS tracking, can help micromoiblity companies create greater public value in three ways.

  • Increased Safety: Simply put, riders often don’t adhere to the “rules of the road” when operating scooters. Why? Because operators do not have a forcing mechanism to make riders do so. With sub-meter level GPS tracking, scooter companies will be able to differentiate whether the rider is on the street or sidewalk and take corrective action as needed, such as by limiting scooter speeds.

  • Greater Accountability: Understanding the location of scooters now requires a bit of a guessing game as operators understand the general area of the scooter’s location, but cannot with much precision know the exact location. With sub-meter level GPS, operators can ensure that scooters are left at appropriate, accessible locations and not tipped over in the street. This level of tracking allows operators to hold riders accountable for where they drop their scooter.

  • Decreased Emissions: With increased use of micromobility options relative to motor vehicles, there will be fewer vehicles on the road. In addition to less congestion, less CO2 will be emitted as customers will choose a micorbility option over taking an Uber, Lyft, or driving their personal vehicle. Increased use of lower emissions options, such as scooters, will help cities move closer to achieving their environmental and sustainability goals.

As you may have guessed, we believe that sub-meter GPS tracking offers substantial benefits that create both private value for operators and public value for society as a whole. It’s a win-win.

Ultimately, cities, such as Dallas, seek to create a set of conditions, rules, and regulations that allow for the safe operation of scooters and e-bikes. We believe that requiring sub-meter level GPS represents a major step in the right direction. Doing so will not only create safer operating conditions, but will also increase accountability for operators while making micromobility solutions more equitable.

To help achieve this vision of the future, we call for all city ordinances to require sub-meter level GPS by May 2021, and starting now, make this technology mandatory in order to receive a new operator license.

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