Using Data Standards for Curb Management

Jacob Malleau
March 28, 2022

Why Have Data Standards?

Whenever there is a conversation about data, it doesn’t take long for data standards to come up. Almost every commonly shared data source has an accompanying standard, from basic information like timestamps and camera film speed, to fully detailed specifications for food safety and IT security. Mobility data is no different. Standards like the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and Mobility Data Specification (MDS) provide formats to create and share mobility information, such as trip generation and scheduling with municipalities, users, and other mobility companies. These universal standards make data sharing much easier and allow companies to design programs and software based on these standards that benefit end users.

The curbside and corresponding regulations are no different – having a digital standard to convey restrictions to curbside users will help streamline the curbside and make it more accessible. Courier vehicles could be directed to nearby loading zones, as opposed to double parking, or a tourist could clearly understand whether they can or can’t park in front of a stack of various parking signs, to name a few examples.

I touched on the value of a curb standard last year and cited the latest specifications being used at the time. Now, the focus is on CurbIQ’s use of curb standards and our best practices moving forward.

CurbLR: A Robust Data Specification for Curbside Supply

CurbLR, a specification developed by SharedStreets, was the first curb standard to be released. It was designed to capture the complex structure of curb regulations in a robust, priority driven design with locations based off of the SharedStreets referencing system. The CurbIQ team was part of the initial testing of this specification and provided feedback on its design. We now use CurbLR as our data structure for all our digital curb inventories as well as the back end of our platform. As it’s evolved, CurbLR now focuses specifically on the supply side of the curb space and is often the initial data source in digital curbside management. As the CurbIQ team looks to ingest and utilize curbside demand data to supplement supply information, another spec is needed to accommodate this new data source.

CDS: A Complete Specification to Cover Curbside Supply, Demand, and Metrics

Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) also recognized this need, and began work on a new specification called the Curb Data Specification (CDS). This spec not only covers the supply component of the curb but incorporates a demand component by having both an events and metrics API. The standard originated from companies and cities wanting to pilot dynamic curb zones, so a large focus of the design has been on curbside demand. This includes explicitly defining unique events and what specific metrics should be aggregated. To avoid reinventing the wheel, much of the supply structure, including the option of using the SharedStreets Referencing System, was copied directly from CurbLR.

The CurbIQ team is part of the CDS working group to refine the design and works with other members to apply this standard in real world scenarios. In fact, our Curb Rules API (to disseminate both curbside supply and demand data) was updated to run off of CDS. This was a clear choice as CDS is designed with a focus on sharing the data, hence referring to all components of their spec as APIs. With the recent release of version 1.0, there will be more applications of CDS, and in turn, more feedback and improvements made to the spec.

The Future of Curb Data Standards

CurbLR and CDS are the two main specifications that the CurbIQ team believes will be most commonplace moving forward. However, as with any new specifications, the industry is still in flux with which one to use. There are still other specifications such as Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx), Alliance for Parking Data Standards (APDS), or ISO 4448 Sidewalk Standard that all relate to the curb and could become more prominent in the coming years.

At CurbIQ, we are focused on using standards that are most beneficial to our end users. We track what is being asked for, what new standards are emerging, and involve ourselves in the formulation of these standards where possible (as we did with both CurbLR and CDS). Another goal of ours is to ensure we can accommodate all common standards. We’re currently working on updating our back end to also accommodate CDS and generating automated processes that can easily convert data between specifications. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions on these various standards, as it can often be overwhelming choosing which to go with and why.

Looking to the future, we see a world where curb data is standardized and as commonplace as GTFS feeds for transit information or YYYY-MM-DD for date format are today. Like companies that help municipalities maintain and update their GTFS and GBFS feeds, we hope to continue to provide and expand those same services to cities all with their curb data via our CurbIQ platform, resulting in more curb data and access for all.

Jacob Malleau
Jacob’s passions for big cities, systems technology, and sustainable mobility align with the work he is involved with as a Transportation EIT at IBI Group. Jacob brings his combination of systems design experience, policy background, and data analytics perspective to help integrate many of IBI Group’s existing practices with the tech-based solutions they are pushing forward.
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