FOMO – Is it the First or Last Thing you Consider


FOMO – Is it the First or Last Thing you Consider

David Zipper, writing over at CityLab, posits the following:

There are a handful of policy phrases that reliably trigger outrage among urban mobility wonks. “Sharrow” is one; “parking minimum” is another.  I’d like to suggest a couple more: “first in the country” and “staying ahead of our rivals.” If you hear either spoken by your mayor or governor, head for the hills (or the next community meeting). More likely than not, your elected officials are basing mobility policy decisions not on cost-benefit analysis or strategic foresight, but on a classic modern insecurity: FOMO.

ICYMI, FOMO means Fear of Missing Out.

He continues:

What does FOMO have to do with urban mobility policy? Ideally, nothing. But in reality, quite a bit—especially with state and local officials swooning over autonomous vehicle technology and eager to show it off.

Consider Arlington, Texas, where in 2017, city officials unveiled an autonomous shuttle called Milo that transports people on a fixed route through its entertainment district. During the launch, a planning official seemed more excited about the novelty of the program than its potential value to citizens, gushing, “[Milo] will go down in history as the first time that a government, a municipal government, has really offered this as a service to the general public.” No mention was made of whether the general public actually wanted the service in the first place. The link to the article is on

As company after company, organization after organization jump on the ‘mobility’ bandwagon, are they doing so to “better mobility policy decisions on cost benefit analysis or strategic foresight” or FOMO. Are they asking questions like “does the general public really want this in the first place?” Can they even define what “mobility” means?

In his article, Zipper points out that some vendors are turning down requests for proposals from localities after researching the reasons the locals had for the requests in the first place. If there is a hint of FOMO, it’s a NOGO. These companies are being asked to have a six month free trial and then perhaps, there will be a purchase order. They know that if there if FOMO involved, there is probably no budget, and after the Mayor gets the headlines, it will most likely come to naught.

How many projects in your company or organization have begun with a FOMO attitude, only to shrink away when the hard work begins. It doesn’t have to be a mayor or governor that jumps on the FOMO bandwagon, it could be a city parking manager, a university transportation department, yes, even the engineering or marketing department at a technology company.

How can you tell if your project has FOMO lurking in the background? Take Zipper’s advice. Ask your customers, your users, your parkers if they want it and would use it.

I had a great FOMO idea to install an AV shuttle so people could park and then take the shuttle to local clubs and restaurants. A friend told me she tried it. No one would actually ride the shuttle. The users were never asked what they wanted.

Many decisions are made out of Fear. Some like fear of starvation, fear of flood or earthquake, of fear of war might have some basis. But FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is a psychological and often narcissistic issue, not based on reality.

H/T Kim Fernandez – IPMI


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only show results from:

Recent Posts

A Note from a Friend

I received this from John Clancy. Now retired, John worked in the technology side of the industry for decades. I don’t think this needs any

Read More »

Look out the Window

If there is any advice I can give it’s concerning the passing scene. “Look out the window.” Rather than listen to CNN or the New

Read More »


Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy