CR Entretien Angela Giacchetti & Jascha Franklin-Hodge (Benchmark MaaS)

From Communauté de la Fabrique des Mobilités

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Description en une ligne : Interview of Angela Giachetti & Jascha Franklin-Hodge ( Open Mobility Foundation) conducted in english by Marguerite Grandjean and Ghislain Delabie as part of Benchmark Standards MaaS, november 19, 2021 about MDS

Description : Interview of Angela Giachetti & Jascha Franklin-Hodge ( Open Mobility Foundation) conducted in english by Marguerite Grandjean and Ghislain Delabie as part of Benchmark Standards MaaS, november 19, 2021 about MDS


We already met with BlueSystems who told us a bit about your governance system, and we read the quite detailed documentation you have on your website. This interview is to clarify a few points about your governance and business model.


What's your adoption level ? How many implementations ?

~130 cities and public agencies, and 12+ companies.

No way to know exactly because it's open.

But we have a repository of cities, and we're tracking where MDS is mentioned in their permits, regulation, language. There are clear regulations that call for MDS. Written in their regulatory framework.

The publicly available list of private actors is incomplete because some players don't want to publish in order not to divulge where they operate.

How many members are active in the WGs ? Are they the same as the paying members ( free for cities, paying for private)?

The typical WG will have 15-30 participants, 1/3 cities, 2/3 operators or software vendors. Not a ton from European cities. Perhaps a timezone issue.

[NB : Since then, OMF has released guidance on using MDS under GDPR, which can be found here].

[NB : as of January 2022, WG times are 9am PT / 6pm CEST].

But lots of participation from BlueSystems and ViaNova. We'd like to set up a specific WG for Europe, at a convenient time. WG are open to anyone to a conversation.

What's paying is the voting right: members of OMF can serve and vote.

How is the initial vote by Working Group Steering Comittee held-is it consensus-based ?

  • Qualified majority ( with different interest represented ?)
  • Consensus of everyone
  • Consent (any veto must be motivated) ?

We are oriented towards consensus. Everything is documented in the Github. You need to follow the Approval process for a new release. We discuss and group similar ideas together. Initial review in WG, presenting, feedback. Pool request in GitHub, technical review.

Over the course of meetings we arrive at some consensus. feedbac, then proponents come back with revised version.

Goal = avoir a vote on individual features. Consensus process works through a discussion bach and forth.

Sometimes we don't have consensus so we delay. The Steering Committee helps here in priorisation. And they review every 6 weeks over the state of the release, what they think is or is not or is maybe going to get in. Helps keep things moving.

Very collegial, bubbles up naturally.

The Working Group Steering Committee helps guide the process. At the end, there's a release candidate that the Steering Committee votes in.

Is the Technology Council for consultation only ?

The Technology Councils reviews, questions, edits the release candidate.

Other role = set general architectural direction. Detailed doc on Architectural landscape, updated every year. Says how we work, and also the topics we want to work on.

They often get involved - rearchitected to support to taxis, ridehail, sidewalk robots... Tech Council involved before release of the architecture, on broad design.

It's not a very technical role, looking at every pull request etc.

What's the difference with the Strategy Comittee ?

More policy-oriented. One of the most important lesson we learned from MDS is to build bridges. Everything has policy implicatins. There's a tension in the model where techs shouldn't dictate policy by virtue of what they concept or not.

Our strategy is to build a bridge between the Tech & Policy worlds.

The Strategy Committee have a policy outlook, but also technical enough to understand translation into policy. Review releases as they develop.

Something technical might actually be spotted as strategic

What happens when there is strong advocating at the Board level ( e.g. NYC for user ID) ? Who is the ultimate decision maker ?

Also a bubbling consensus.

We try to get out of stuff that are controversial. We raise issues with the Board early in the process, to avoid rejection from Board after months of development.

OMF staff have developed a good radar of what the Board may like or reject.

Ex: we added a feature to share more aggregated data (not the disaggregated data that MDS is built on). There was a concern from the Board that providers would say 'then we don't want to give any disaggregated data'. We explained that both are complements.

What happens if there is a blockage in the WG (like a veto or some bad faith) - any veto needs to be motivated ?

We almost always reach unanimous consensus.

One example of modification where most of Board & Strategy Committee felt it wasn't ready, but one Board city really wanted it. Release still passed.

Also we don't have in-house developers, so we won't have volunteers if the Board doesn't want it. And Board members are really involved.

Are the cities donating staff time ?

Yes, someone on their staff involved with the Steering Committee

Do yo want to recruit developers at some point ?

We don't know if we want to have in-house devs yet. Good to have more tech capacity, but we'll always want direct code contributions from our community.

Board gives formal validation, but is there someone who actually looks at the code ?

Open source model: there are real upsides to the grassroots model, but also challenges. One of the latest releases was actually fully drafted by our Director of Open Source.

Do the cities have good level of understanding on MaaS ?

Yes and no.

Value of the Tech Council is to bring in senior tech people who understand the tech aspect of the work.

Participation to MDS also acts as training. My job as an Engagement Manager is to make sure our members get the most out of working together, share resources, best practices among each other.

We do a lot of community education, blog posts, webinars... Education.

New release: we unpack it, make it really easy to understand how you can use it in policy.

Attending meetings or Strategy Comittee is an opportunity for Professional development for their staff: somebody may be really interested in deepening that.

A lot of cities enjoy that as a growth opportunity.

Our priorities are represented in our 3 staff members: have strong specs, and make sure communtiy can use it.

Cities are at very different levels of maturity. Some have software devs, others where 1 person is responsible to manage scooters without any tech background.

Regardless of that technical capacity, we have to build something that works even then.

What are you links with CDS-M ?

We've been working closely with CDS-M. We're very open to be more useful in the European context and build commonalities.

From what we understand, the team right now is still figuring out their scope. We're in the WGs & Slack channels. It seems it's about rebuilding a new standard between regulators & MSPs that is functionally similar but differently structured. It wouldn't be a new build from the ground up, but a layer around MDS, another governance layer for use cases to be articulated (GDPR), using frameworks and templates for user agreements.

The basic-level data exchange format isn't different from MDS. Our goal is to be international, bring more European voices. Some French cities are already using MDS as is. In Europe too: Antwerp, Brussels. If there is interest, cities can join freely in our groups.

We'd love to have more European voices, because it is already used in Europe and it's a very different context.

Business Model

What is your total budget?

600k USD.


Almost all of our costs are staff cost, bit of external consultancy like web design or cleanup for releases.


Seed funding from Foundations, some of it is still on the books, 85-90%. Trnsitioning from the sponsorship level. Not a lot of public funding.

Our program is voluntary for cities, but for companies there's a corporate membership.

What future perspectives do you see for OMF?

Depending on revenue growth, we envision to become bigger as an organization and bring more investment in events, content.

We're still a startup.

Prise de note sur le PAD (cocher si Oui) ? Non

Communauté(s) d'intérêt impliquée(s) : Standards Ouverts pour des MaaS d'intérêt général

Prochaine Etape : none

Autres informations :