In a world first, crowdsourced-sensor data from a public bike scheme was collected using a low-power wide-area (LPWA) network to gain insights into Belfast’s urban environment. See.Sense collaborated with Smart Belfast, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Bristol, and BT on “iPedal”, an Internet of Things (IoT) project in 2016. By placing 175 of our intelligent sensors on the public hire “Belfast Bikes”, never before seen data was collected from public hire bikes, which was accessed by partners via the BT IoT data hub.
Deborah Colville, the City Innovation Manager of Belfast City Council says "This innovative smart city project used the See.Sense leading edge smart sensor on the “Belfast Bike’ Scheme. It enabled Council and its city partners to collect anonymous, near real-time information about such things as road quality, location of pot-holes, commuter behaviour, traffic congestion, sudden stops, near misses and accident hotspots. This data is now helping to paint a sophisticated picture of the city’s road infrastructure and, in particular, the experience of the city’s thousands of cyclists."
Use case: Cycle infrastructure planning
Belfast City Council overlaid the data gathered with their cycling infrastructure maps to see current usage, as shown in the first image. Noticeably, the orange dots, which represent where Belfast Bikes go, don’t always follow the existing cycle lanes to get to their destination. The Bike Life Report survey results found cyclists report they commonly take routes that use cycle infrastructure. However our data shows that this is not always the case. It could be that we are picking up that the type of cyclists who use share bike schemes are more novice and may not be taking routes that use cycle infrastructure because they are not aware of them. Therefore, the data collected from our sensors allows the city to review its cycle network and make well-informed decisions when considering investing in new infrastructure.
Use case: Identifying areas for docking stations
The iPedal project also allowed the city to see any gaps in the station network. After reviewing the See.Sense data, the city realised that the Titanic Quarter saw considerable cycle traffic. Belfast was able to use this data to strengthen their decision to relocate a station from an underperforming area to this part of the city.
Use case: Forecast bike location and station demand
Normally, information about bike share trips is limited to station origin and destination, but with our sensor technology Belfast Bikes was able to see how riders got from A to B. This can be seen in the third image with the red markers representing stations and coloured lines representing similar journeys at specific times of the day and week. Knowing these things, the city can predict where bikes will be at any given point between stations and also aids redistribution modelling.
Project enabled by world-first tech
Aforementioned, iPedal is a world-first where a city, cycle hire operator, and all collaborating partners had comprehensive trip data sent over an LPWA network. LPWA networks have the advantage of operating at a low-cost while supporting a large number of devices over a large area. Other similar devices for data collection require frequent charging and have a more limited range.
These are all prime examples of the versatile uses of See.Sense’s cutting edge technology. Our patented sensor technology can be used by cities and researchers to understand the cycling experience and investigate current infrastructure use in near real-time. Moreover, cycle hire operators can use See.Sense technology to identify new opportunities for system expansion as well as predict bike locations in real-time and to improve redistribution efforts.