A news story at Aalto University that I was interviewed for based on my recent journal article on ethics in Urban AI. We often think of electric scooters as part of the switch to eco-friendly mobility but their role in urban landscapes is more complicated.

“Public and private actors can have very different priorities, leading to certain risks: tools that aren’t designed with accessibility in mind may exclude certain users, and economic factors can also restrict access or exclude certain groups. ‘That’s the bigger arc that we should think about. People say that micromobility is a technology that takes us to the last mile, but we have to ask “The last mile for who?”’ says Sawhney. ‘The claim is that e-scooters offer a new platform, but they don’t actually expand mobility for people who couldn’t use current options, like the elderly, disabled people or young children – groups that don’t currently use e-scooters. And we have to ask why they don’t and what other mobility alternatives would suit them.’”

“Everyone would benefit if e-scooter data were shared – responsibly – with municipalities, explains Nitin Sawhney. Despite the shortcomings of a purely quantitative approach, such data is valuable to urban planners, who help bring cities to life. ‘Urban mobility data can contribute to better urban planning and modelling. It can tell a lot about the patterns of movement in a city and how pathways for urban mobility can be better designed. It can allow for conversation about urban futures.’”

News article by Sedeer el-Showk (published: 7.11.2022): https://www.aalto.fi/en/news/how-will-e-scooters-transform-urban-spaces

My related journal paper “Contestations in Urban Mobility: Rights, Risks & Responsibilities for Urban AI” published in AI & Society (open access): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00146-022-01502-2