Anyone who spends time in cities won’t have missed the rise in popularity of micromobility (aka urban mobility). Small, lightweight vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes provide affordable, accessible, and eco-friendly transportation that is also cost-effective, and are seen as the answer to gridlocked cities and urban air pollution. Ernst & Young has called e-scooters the ‘fastest growing mode of transport ever documented’. In fact, the micromobility market is expected to enjoy CAGR of 16 percent from $3 billion in 2019 to $12 billion by 2027. This growth is due to both changes in consumer sentiment, where micromobility solutions are increasingly seen as viable commuter options, and the industry itself willingly tackling some of its more pressing issues, such as parking. Micromobility is also getting a boost from city planners, who are prioritizing greater sustainability and efficiency and the reduction of car use within city boundaries.
So, where does IoT fit into the micromobility picture? From a tech perspective, cellular connectivity is one of the keys to the success of micromobility because it is critical to managing the growing fleets. Additionally, IoT allows micromobility to address major criticisms, such as e-scooters being dumped on sidewalks willy-nilly. Connecting things like e-scooters helps the industry ensure they know where their assets are and that they are in working order.
There are roughly six different IoT sensors that can enable and enhance a micromobility solution:
- A condition sensor diagnoses battery levels and maintenance needs
- A sound sensor cautions too-close pedestrians
- An NFC (near-field communication) sensor is used for payments and unlocking
- A motion sensor detects vandalism or impact
- A GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) sensor maps the location of the fleet
- Air quality and noise sensors gather environmental data for third parties, such as city planners
Cellular connectivity allows micromobility companies to optimize their offering. Location-aware connected units allow them to mitigate risks, such as setting up safety zone to enforce low speeds and recovering abandoned scooters. Additionally, micromobility companies can contribute to smart city planning and transit improvement through gathering valuable data which shows traffic patterns and commuter trends around a city.