Last updated: 16 October 2019
Everyone is aware of the perils of pollution in major cities. In London, World Health Organization annual clean air legal limits are breached in the first days of January, and over in China one third of all deaths have been linked to smog.
As the trend to urbanization continues to rise—projections suggest that 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030—policies will have to be developed and delivered that address the strain we put on the environment. Not only for the planet’s wellbeing, but also so we can get around safely without endangering
City planners around the world are imagining a world where this is possible. And transport is one area where there are high hopes. Much of the optimism stems from the idea that moving people away from cars and onto public transport can pay real dividends. But there is also another route many cities are taking: promoting inner-city bike sharing schemes.
From London to New York, across Europe and Asia, city authorities have installed bike ranks that anyone is able to use. They have started a mini-revolution with their popularity proving that citizens are open to changing their habits. But these fixed spots where you can collect and drop off bikes are limiting the potential for real change in commuter behavior, and driving up the initial cost and complexity of launching such a scheme.
That’s where Mobike comes in, a company we’re proud to partner with, to extend cycling and the IoT in cities. It is the world’s first cashless and station-free bike sharing platform and uses a patented bike design, combined with a smart lock system and GPS tracker. By using the companion app, not only can you see where the Mobikes are at all times, but you’ll be guided right to them via walking directions from the app. It brings a whole new level of convenience to the user.
Gemalto’s provides secure connectivity for Mobike’s fleet of bikes by embedding Cinterion M2M and Machine Identification Module technologies in the bike. This allows the locks to be operated remotely, the entire fleet to be managed in real-time, and even the ‘health’ of each bike can be monitored too. These Gemalto IoT modules are pre-certified by all major mobile networks across the world, meaning any other company can deploy them in their own IoT services. We’re excited to see what other innovations creators will come up with next.
In China, Mobike deployed one million bikes across 33 cities, and has plans to triple that figure in the near term. Who knows, in time they may even have nine million bicycles in Beijing, as the song goes. Of course, these bikes are a little bit special, so come with airless tyres to extend durability, and a solar powered basket to power the technology contained within.
Mobike has also just launched in Manchester, England, and now boasts 25 million daily rides worldwide on peak days. That’s a lot of people not getting into their cars or into taxis.
It might seem like one person choosing to cycle wouldn’t change much, but consider this from the CDC in America:
“Half of U.S. schoolchildren are dropped off at school in the family car. If 20% of those living within two miles of school were to bike or walk instead, it would save 4.3 million miles of driving per day. Over a year, that saved driving would prevent 356,000 tons of CO2 and 21,500 tons of other pollutants from being emitted.”
In Munich, where I live, the Copenhagenize Bicycle Friendly Cities Index 2017 has just ranked my city the 15th best for cycling worldwide. It has built more cycling infrastructure than any city in Germany over the past few years, and has for 14 bicycle superhighways to encourage people to cycle to the city from farther out. If you’re ever in Munich, let’s go for a ride!
Connected bikes hold huge potential for implementing further ideas. The possibilities for being able to map the location of connected devices in real-time, while securing access to them via biometric authentication would lead to a much-improved user experience. The same technology could be applied to car sharing schemes, cutting down car ownership, and potentially providing another low-cost, on-demand, low-emissions travel option in urban spaces when deployed with an electric vehicle fleet. Who knows, you might see one of these ideas showcased at this year’s IoT / WT Innovation World Cup – an event Gemalto is helping to stage.
Being able to open an app and immediately see where your nearest bike is, is just the beginning.