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June 2011 Transit Cooperative Research Program Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration Responsible Senior Program Officer: Gwen Chisholm Smith Legal Research Digest 37 Legal Arrangements for Use and Control of Real-Time Data This report was prepared under TCRP Project J-5, "Legal Aspects of Transit and Intermodal Transportation Programs," for which the Transportation Research Board is the agency coordinating the research. The report was prepared by Larry W. Thomas, Attorney-at-Law. James B. McDaniel, TRB Counsel for Legal Research Projects, was the principal investigator and content editor. The Problem and Its Solution (GPS) and similar technologies. Such data can be used to provide customers real-time arrival infor- The nation's 6,000 plus transit agencies need to have mation through personal computers, personal digital access to a program that can provide authoritatively assistants (PDAs), bus stop signs, and other means. researched, specific, limited-scope studies of legal is- Another set of uses are for performance measures. As sues and problems having national significance and used herein, the term "real-time data" means data be- application to their business. Some transit programs ing collected at the same time it is being generated, involve legal problems and issues that are not shared which may be disseminated immediately to patrons with other modes; as, for example, compliance with or others. transit-equipment and operations guidelines, FTA fi- Transit agencies increasingly are taking advantage nancing initiatives, private-sector programs, and labor of technological advancements in the collection and or environmental standards relating to transit opera- distribution of real-time data to provide up-to-date in- tions. Also, much of the information that is needed by formation to patrons. As transit agencies develop these transit attorneys to address legal concerns is scattered technologies, outside entities are asking for access to and fragmented. Consequently, it would be helpful to this data for a variety of purposes. Some transit agen- the transit lawyer to have well-resourced and well- cies allow subscribers to use their mobile telephones documented reports on specific legal topics available or PDA devices for access to real-time data. to the transit legal community. There are a range of possibilities for how transit The Legal Research Digests (LRDs) are developed agencies can own, license, and use real-time data. to assist transit attorneys in dealing with the myriad These range from completely exclusive use by the of initiatives and problems associated with transit agency to full rights for the public to access and use start-up and operations, as well as with day-to-day le- the data stream. But these issues raise even more gal work. The LRDs address such issues as eminent questions, such as appropriate models for data owner- domain, civil rights, constitutional rights, contract- ship and use; how real-time data will be controlled; ing, environmental concerns, labor, procurement, risk ownership rights and how aggressively an agency management, security, tort liability, and zoning. The should protect those rights; the legal requirements transit legal research, when conducted through the for the data to be made publicly available; the public TRB's legal studies process, either collects primary policy implications of using transit real-time data for data that generally are not available elsewhere or per- advertising purposes; and the application of freedom forms analysis of existing literature. of information requirements to real-time and related automatic vehicle location data. Applications This digest should help transit officials understand the legal options and limitations for real-time data Transit agencies rely more and more on computer- ownership, protection, and use. ized real-time data, using global positioning systems TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES