The search for Amazon HQ2: MobilityScore as a site selection tool

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 10/30/17 11:39 AM


As part of Amazon’s search for its next headquarters, more than 200 cities have submitted bids to the company to declare they they, above all other options, are the right place for the job. Amazon has a lengthy list of requirements, but the one that involved us the most was direct access to rail, train, subway, and bus routes.

DC has proposed four areas: Anacostia Riverfront, NoMa-Union Station, Capitol Hill East, and Shaw-Howard University. We used our new tool, MobilityScore®, to calculate the ease of getting around without a car for each of the proposed locations, both as it stands now and as it would be with transit enhancements for Amazon.

MobilityScore takes into account the availability of all your mobility options: public transit, bikeshare, carshare, and ridehailing services. It uses studies about how far people are willing to walk to reach a nearby metro or bike to decide what’s included in the calculation, as well as historical data updated on a weekly basis to measure what’s truly available.

The scores are divided into categories to represent the amount of transportation options at the given address, from Excellent Mobility to Minimal Mobility.

Phase I Analysis

The Amazon buildout requires an initial parcel of land for Phase 1, which would then be expanded to 2,000,000 million square feet and beyond by 2027.

We began by calculating the current MobilityScore as it stands for the Phase 1 buildout, without any transportation improvements, as a benchmark. If Amazon were to come to any of these locations, however, transportation improvements could be easily made. All four of these sites are already located next to a stop on DC’s Metro, so for the sake of estimating changes we assumed the following additions:

  • A Capital Bikeshare station added directly on site, with 50 docks
  • A carshare parking space added directly on site
  • A private shuttle, modeled after the shuttles Amazon currently uses at its Seattle HQ
  • A water taxi route, if applicable (Capitol Hill East, Anacostia Riverfront)

With these improvements, we recalculated the MobilityScores.

Site MobilityScore with initial improvements
Shaw-Howard University 90 (+8)
NoMa-Union Station 86 (+9)
Capitol Hill East 84 (+13)
Anacostia Riverfront 87 (+7)

We also prepared visuals to display the nearby Metro lines, as well as all relevant bus, Metro, and water taxi stops, as well as Capital Bikeshare stations and carshare locations.

MobilityScore analyzing distance radius around Amazon HQ
The Anacostia Riverfront Phase I site with added transportation features. 

Phase II Analysis

The MobilityScore returns a value for a specific address, so calculating the overall mobility of each built-out location for Phases II-IV was more challenging. To do so, we ran every address in the area, then found the minimum, median, and highest MobilityScore for all four sites.

Site Minimum Phase II-IV MobilityScore Median Phase II-IV MobilityScore High Phase II-IV MobilityScore
Shaw-Howard University 56 88 95
NoMa-Union Station 69 78 93
Capitol Hill East 59 71 84
Anacostia Riverfront 56 77 94

For a site this expansive, it's important to be able to look at the range of mobility across the board. We also prepared heatmaps of all addresses in the proposed expanded sites for a more visual analysis.



Amazon has the option of selecting a site with an established mobility landscape or choosing to build out a mobility landscape of its own, potentially bringing transportation access to a previously underserved neighborhood.

We can't make that choice for Amazon, but we can (and did!) provide them with the data behind it. MobilityScore as seen on our public website allows for analysis of current mobility, but our MobilityScore PRO feature offers predictive analysis.

Are you interested in better data for your next site selection process or corporate relocation, or simply having a better understanding of the mobility options in your city? We're here to help.

Topics: MobilityScore