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Should there be Industry Codes of Conduct in Micro-Mobility?

The short answer is yes, most definitely. Keep reading.

Should there be Industry Codes of Conduct in Micro-Mobility?

If you have ever worked within an industry - likely everyone reading this has - you may have heard of something called industry codes of conduct (sometimes called industry codes of practice). If you have not, don’t fret, it is something that is often seen as a boring discussion held amongst business strategists, governments and intellectuals. But, codes of conduct can be super important to the proper functioning of businesses that operate within a certain sector.

The fundamental idea is to create a set of enforceable rules and measures that above all, aim to regulate industry conduct. Sometimes these are formal rules that are coded into law, like the Australian Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code. These are usually in place to protect consumers or because an industry or small group of companies broke the rules so bad that the government decided it had to step in to create new ones. On the other hand, sometimes there are voluntary industry codes of conduct, these tend to be far more flexible and popular than mandatory codes. Only members of an industry or profession that have agreed to a set of rules are bound by it, such as participation in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) which helps to limit market crashes from the high-frequency trading effects on U.S stock markets.

So, now that we know what codes of conduct are and the differences between the voluntary and mandatory types, the question becomes…. Should there be a code of conduct in the fast-growing micro-mobility industry?

The short answer is yes, most definitely. Some would ask why would companies agree to go beyond the law (government regulations), especially since they may be leaving money on the table in doing so? A common explanation for this is corporate social responsibility (CSR), or that companies are able to project a social license to operate and give a favorable image to consumers and employees. In other words, firms may try to show they are taking responsibility to citizens, activist groups, and politicians by attempting to solve the problem on their own, inadvertently saying to the public domain that investment in regulation is a waste of money that could be used elsewhere.

It should not take more than a quick online search to see the complaints, praises and contentious discussions going on around micro-mobility. From business claiming they have solved the “last mile” problem within urban centers to people pushing e-scooters over because they see them as trash, there is a wide range of feelings towards this sector. The industry is in its early business phase where there is a large potential consumer market, no incumbents, low costs to enter and little to no - current- regulation. This is a recipe for confusion and anger and some municipalities have recently decided to start banning or heavy regulating the number of micro-mobility companies operating within their limits. Some of the issues coming from micro-mobility firms could be solved if they decided to create an industry code of conduct which all could abide by and would relieve some pressure being put onto the cities.

So what would an industry code of conduct look like? This would depend on whether or not different micro-mobility players decide to work together to self-regulate or if they wait for governments to do so. However, there are voluntary initiatives beginning to arise, the Open Mobility Foundation, based in the U.S at the moment, is an initiative seeking to bring cities and mobility firms, policymakers, and technical know-how together to share data and integrate with public mobility goals. Other examples are from micro-mobility companies themselves -see Donkey Republic Code of Conduct - which is beginning to create their own codes of conduct in unison with the cities in which they operate.

What are some of the benefits a Micro-Mobility industry code of conduct could bring?

The creation and self-enforcement of appropriate industry practices formulated by businesses and accepted by governments. The flexibility of an industry code would allow businesses to respond to recurring market issues and adapt to changing consumer needs depending on the location. A business-friendly alternative to legislation that can result in reduced costs for industry and government. Gathering a large amount of data, which could be used to improve public mobility options in cities across the world Establishing industry-wide safeguards and protection for consumers. The creation of new public discussions within industry, consumers, governments, and academia.

At Hellotracks, we believe there is a real opportunity for the micro-mobility industry to create a strong industry code of conduct. The benefits could be beneficial to all parties including local governments, consumers and the micro-mobility firms themselves. Hellotracks is a developed software designed to manage field employees, their vehicles and the assets they are working with. In this regard, we can bring a fundamental understanding of data and provide the technical know-how that a micro-mobility code of conduct would need. We bring a different angle on the sector and that perspective is important for all players, including the micro-mobility firms, governments, and consumers.

The benefits could be beneficial to all parties including local governments, consumers and the micro-mobility firms themselves.

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