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How IoT Tech Can Help Save the Fledgling Scooter Sharing Industry

A scooter on a colorful background
Illustration: © IoT For All

Municipalities are taking back their streets and sidewalks with new rules that require companies to meet city compliance ordinances and data sharing standards. These new governmental regulations have forced many micromobility companies to take a closer look at their business and the systems that power it. 

While rapid deployment is still important, the most successful micromobility companies are now building flexible shared-mobility systems that are able to adapt to governmental regulations. They key Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that enable a flexible mobility ecosystem will also enable new revenue streams and a better customer experience.

In fact, companies that take their time and implement comprehensive IoT solutions are able to overcome some of the biggest challenges in the micromobility industry. In this article, we’ll explain how micromobility companies can leverage real-time IoT features to better engage with cities and to create a service that benefits both the city and the provider. 

Address New Governmental Regulations in Real Time

One of the main challenges for scooter sharing companies is that governmental regulations (like parking rules, vehicle caps, and other laws) change from city to city. This means operators need the ability to change the underlying product behaviors of their scooters to adapt to city regulations. For instance, when deploying a fleet of scooters, operators need the ability to enforce that their scooters are parked in the right areas and follow speed limits that have been mandated by the city.

To accomplish this, many shared-mobility companies have started embracing OTA firmware updates to reliably reprogram a scooter’s internal IoT device to address city regulations. OTA firmware updates refers to the practice of remotely updating the code on a remote embedded device. With OTA firmware updates, shared-mobility companies can  reprogram a scooter to follow a city’s speed limits. A company could even reprogram the scooter to issue a warning to riders if they are driving too fast by sending a message to the user’s phone or by emitting a noise. 

When it comes to addressing parking restrictions, many scooter companies are even leveraging IoT technology to create wireless parking hubs. These parking hubs can communicate with a scooter’s internal IoT device to ensure that scooters are parked in the correct zones. An IoT device could warn a rider that they need to park their scooter at a docking station before they can get off. The same IoT device can send information to the user’s phone to let them know where the nearest parking station is located.

Partner and Share Data With Cities Over the Cloud

Scooter companies can even use IoT to help give cities the data they need to make better decisions. Companies are often required to give scooter data (like traffic patterns and environmental conditions) to cities as part of their license to operate. This can be an incredibly complex networking challenge because companies must give cities access to their scooter device data, without giving them access to all their data.

As more and more data-sharing regulations are put in place, many micromobility operators are partnering with IoT companies to build services that make it easy to share data. An IoT cloud platform can act as a data-broker between a company’s scooters and the city. By creating these systems, scooter companies can improve relations with cities and give them an incentive to keep their scooters on the streets. 

Reinforce Good Scooter Riding Behavior Wirelessly

The biggest problem scooter-sharing companies face is that they often lack the ability to enforce good scooter behavior. In an ideal world, people would use scooters responsibly, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

When scooter companies don’t enforce good riding behavior, they place this burden on cities. A city can’t take on the full burden of enforcing good scooter riding behavior; it’s a shared responsibility. Ultimately, a city that’s not set up for success will opt to protect its citizens, which can result in sweeping bans. 

The best technology providers share a responsibility to keep their riders safe and to remove the burden off the cities. One way companies can accomplish this is by monitoring scooter behavior remotely and by enforcing good practices with connected sensors. For example, many micromobility companies are using internal IoT sensors to determine if a rider is driving in a straight line or wobbling. If a sensor detects a rider is wobbling, it can be programmed to warn the rider or to slow down the bike. A feature like this is especially important for counteracting new and unstable riders. 

Differentiation Through IoT

The most successful micromobility companies are leveraging IoT technology to improve relationships with cities and to solve some of the biggest last-mile problems. It’s critical for micromobility companies to understand that IoT technology not only provides an opportunity to better manage remote assets, but it creates better experiences for the users who ride them and for the cities that govern them.

Written by Jeffrey Lee

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