Data on the Move: Soundbyte from Sarah Williams, MIT Civic Data Design Lab

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One of the biggest barriers in Urban Air Mobility right now is a concern for safety, or the idea that a drone will fly into a building. Data can help make decisions about where drones can fly safely. There’s already a lot of data produced by airlines, aviation experts, and the Federal Aviation Administration about typical travel patterns that, if that data was shared more readily, it could tell us a bit about current transit in the air.

Much of the data that exists in the world today is privately owned. Some estimates say close to 80% of the data in the world is owned by private companies. This data amounts to a public good because it allows us to make these decisions. It allows us to create better infrastructure. We can plug into it for different kinds of things. Yet the government doesn't have access to it to make those kinds of decisions. If private companies are going to be working on our roadways, or our airways, they need to be able to share that data so that governments can make better planning decisions that would improve these services.

— Sarah Williams is director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT and an associate professor of technology and urban planning.