The city wants to leverage data from the popular transportation planning platform to help set regulations that will impact how people move about the city, and the role providers will play in delivering mobility services.
Honolulu is in the process of drafting regulations to accommodate micro and shared mobility providers, including scooters, e-bikes, skateboards and other forms of mobility. To aid in developing those policies the city will rely on its three-year relationship with transportation planning platform Remix.
“We don’t have a regulatory framework yet," said Jon Y. Nouchi, deputy director in the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services. "But a lot of the data we intend to include in our regulatory framework, that we require of the providers, is going to be populated by the Remix product for us."
The move by Honolulu officials represents the future of transportation planning as the variety of travel modes in cities increases steadily, along with growing demands for curb space by ride-hailing or delivery services. Dozens of other cities also have turned to technology and data to support their transportation decisions.
Services like Remix take vast amounts of data churned out by the many transportation providers and make it usable for transportation officials to arrive at sound, data-based decisions.
“For example, everyone’s clamoring for better active transportation infrastructure, and bike lanes, and protected bike lanes, and buffered bike lanes,” said Tiffany Chu, Remix's co-founder. “So how do we responsibly divert investment to all of those changes? Especially now that we know where people are riding, and kind of the heatmaps of how people are getting around.”
The growing impact of fact-based transportation planning is part of what prompted Energy Impact Partners, (EIP) a utility-backed energy investment firm, to lead in the latest round of Series B funding for Remix, totaling $15 million.
“What we loved about Remix, which holds closely to what we looked for in companies we are investing in who are in the utility space, is that they have a very customer-centric mindset in a highly regulated, and ultimately sort of civic-minded market,” said Shayle Kann, senior vice president for research and strategy at Energy Impact Partners in San Francisco. “And that’s a lens that we like to take in the energy industry as well — the utility being a corollary to the city in that case."
The future of urban mobility is also likely to be powered increasingly by electricity, Kann surmised, referring to the growth of not only electric cars, scooters and bikes, but also buses and trains. Electric utilities, with their vast infrastructure embedded in cities, are a natural symbiotic partner with urban systems.
“Fundamentally, urban mobility is a vital importance to all cities, but also to the utilities in those cities," said Kann. "Utilities tend to be the large donor of infrastructure within a city. They also have close, tightknit relationships with the cities themselves.”
The long-term trend in mobility, especially for urban areas, is going toward electrification, according to Kann. “That's going to require a fair amount of coordination between the cities and utilities, who are the owners of the infrastructure and the owners of the grid in which this stuff is going to be powered," he said.
Transportation and the act of moving through cities “has changed more in the last five years than it has in the last 50,” said Chu. “And Remix has been really expanding our platform in response to cities asking for a better way to, basically, help with change, and manage new mobility, and integrate it with the rest of the transportation ecosystem.”