3 months ago

Smart Industry 1/2018

Smart Industry 1/2018 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica


Smart Lifestyle Internet of Bikes Public Transport The Internet of Bikes Bike-sharing is growing with breathtaking speed all over the world. Thanks to IoT technology, the systems are improving just as rapidly, bringing dramatic changes to urban mobility. ■ By Rainer Claassen 58

In 2004, I had a really remarkable experience. I had a six-hour layover at Copenhagen Airport during an international trip, so I decided to have a look at the city instead of the tax-free shops at the airport. As I came out of the subway that had taken me downtown, I noticed some bi cycle stands with lots of colorful bikes attached to them by chains. By inserting a coin, they could be unlocked, taken for a ride and returned at any of the many stands spread across the city, where you could get your deposit coin back. Taking the bike gave me a chance to see the opera house, the castle, and, of course, the famous statue of the Little Mermaid – without even paying a dime. For me, on a sunny day there is no better way to get around a city than by bike. Back then, a system like this would only have been feasible in a peaceful and prosperous country like Denmark. A worldwide megatrend What was a pioneering project in this Scandinavian metropolis has since become a worldwide megatrend where growing companies are competing to lead the market. Who would have imagined that in 2017 there would be about 600 bike-share operators worldwide, or that the industry would be expected to grow at about 20% per year, on track to be a $5.8bn market by 2020? One of the reasons for this might be the trend toward a sharing economy. Probably more important is the ability to run an intelligent management system for public bicycles by using location sensors, wireless technology, and mobile phones. When the success story of bike-sharing began to take off around 2010, the systems were not very flexible and were rather inconvenient for users. Companies installed stations, where a finite number of bicycles could be racked, all over the big cities. Often the investors were players in public transport – in Hamburg for example, StadtRAD operated by German railway Deutsche Bahn. In the early days, to be able to rent a bike, you first had to subscribe with the company, allowing it to withdraw fees from your bank account or your credit card. To rent a bike, you had to use a terminal screen at the rental station and go through a rather complicated process to get hold of the bike. When you wanted to return it, you had to find another rental station, where you had to endure another process to check the bike in again. Even though fees for riding were quite low, these inconveniences kept many users from sticking with their subscriptions and discouraged potential users from trying it out. It could be quite a hassle to go through the process, especially when traveling. Over the next few years, many providers developed smartphone apps that made the process of enlisting to rent a bike much quicker and easier. Even with the improvements in the rental experience itself, bike-share growth stayed rather moderate due to several factors: it takes time to secure government and corporate sponsorships and get support from local authorities to cover the cost of installing the expensive docking stations, as well as having to set up credit card payment systems. In Europe, some rather unexpected joint ventures have been formed to help overcome these hurdles. Deutsche Bahn is cooperating with car manufacturer Ford in Cologne and Düsseldorf (www.fordpass-bike. de) and with the Lidl supermarket chain in Berlin ( Development in the US has been That's how it started: A shared bike the author used in 2004 in Copenhagen The new bike-share operators scatter bikes around a city and customers use an app to unlock them Docking station of StadtRAD The service is operated by the German railway in Hamburg, Germany photo©: R. Claaßen quite similar to Europe and, lately, bike-sharing has exploded seemingly overnight in China, due to an influx of venture capital and a model that eschews docks, making expansion cheaper and easier. The new bike-share operators scatter bikes around a city, and customers use an app or scan a code to unlock them. The bikes can be left near a bike rack, on a sidewalk, or in a park within the range of the system. Without the need for docks, these startups can launch in a city in a matter of weeks without government help because they are subsidized with venture capital. Britain's YoBike instructions shows how easy bike rental has become: 1. Download the app. Open the Google Play or iTunes App Store app on your smartphone and search for YoBike. Launch the app and follow the registration process; it shouldn't take more than about two minutes to get set up. 2. Find your closest YoBike. You can locate bikes near you from the home page of the YoBike app. Once you've found a bike, scan the QR code on the rear of the bike's frame. YoBike will unlock, then 60 minutes of hasslefree cycling starts! You can also enter the bike number manually. 3. Finished your ride? Two things before you go: Check the in-app map to park your YoBike next to one of the allocated parking spaces across your region. Close YoBike's lock on the rear wheel and mark your trip as completed within the YoBike app. Mobike and Ofo are two of the most successful Chinese companies in 59