Data Deficits in Municipal Rideshare Collaborations
Deepa Das Acevedo, "Data Deficits in Municipal Rideshare Collaborations," 63 Saint Louis University Law Journal 69 (2019).
24 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2019 Last revised: 7 Nov 2019
Date Written: July 16, 2019
In the last two to three years alone, rideshare companies — mostly but not exclusively, Uber — have increasingly come to bid on public services contracts for transportation provision. Cities that contract with rideshare platforms do so because they are captivated by the chance to offer existing services at lower costs. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the real value generated by driver activity is the unprecedented amount of information created by the labor that drivers perform. Ridesharing is inherently built on the ability to collect astoundingly granular data about individuals as well as equally tantalizing insights about aggregate behavior. From the perspective of municipal actors, this information is valuable not only for what it can reveal about the working conditions of rideshare drivers (no small thing to set aside) but also because it offers insights about the success of pilot programs and the scope of future urban infrastructure demands.
This paper draws on semi-structured interviews with policy analysts, transportation advocates, and government officials across the United States to make two arguments. First, I argue that the data produced by rideshare drivers is as if not more valuable than the transportation itself. And second, I caution that many municipal actors may either be failing to recognize the importance of rideshare data, or have been unsuccessful at translating this realization into improved contracts with rideshare platforms.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation