Interoperability Benefits and Getting the Terminology Right
By Colin Mooney, Director, Client Services, Team Carma. The writer works for Carma, a carpool matching company (think dating for commuters) that enables carpooling in Austin, Texas, San Francisco, Calif., and maybe a location near you. Carma's services are designed to be smartphone friendly.
Vehicle sharing: City bikeshare systems have been a roaring success in D.C., Chicago, Austin, etc. Trend is that they are all expanding station networks and just beginning to gather enough data to really understand usage patterns and peak/non-peak demand. Carsharing is starting to significantly grow, too. Companies like Car2Go are coming into the market and putting pressure on the ZipCars of the world by quickly expanding to new cities. There is now a synergy/complementary element to carshare and bikeshare in the same city (e.g., DC and Austin).
Apps overload: Transportation data aggregators such as RideScout and TransitScreen are starting to demonstrate their value as "app-overload" starts to become an issue. Rather than have 10 apps on your phone, these services create a real-time transit hub in your hand by pulling in data from ALL services.
Interoperability is being acknowledged by public agencies and private business. The sharing of data enables API's, aggregation, etc. There were some great demos from Portland (public agency) and RideAmigos (private supplier) on newest web technologies on the market. [Editor's note: API means application programming interface and specifies how some software components should interact with each other. Learn more at the Wikipedia entry for APIs.] Carma has announced the $2.5 million dollar "Carma Prize" which caused a lot of excitement at the summit. Compared to the Noble Prize, except for mobility! More information about the tech developer competition is available at the Tech Crunch website and in a Wall St. Journal article.
Another major discussion topic was the appropriate use of the term "ridesharing" versus "taxi." Sean O'Sullivan, founder of Carma, contributed strongly towards that, pointing out the Uber/Lyft industry use of the phrase "Neo-Taxi". [Editor's note: State legislators have begun using the term "transportation network companies" to refer to taxi-like app ride-matching services. Also, view resources on shared use mobility]