Smart cities use micromobility
In cities around the world, micro-mobility is booming: small, light vehicles, such as electric scooters and bicycles, are rented via mobile apps. While micro-mobility vehicles are often used for leisure, electric scooters and bicycles are also an alternative for commuting. Because of this versatility, micro-mobility is expected to grow as smart city design prioritizes greater sustainability and efficiency.
We are at an inflection point where connected devices are not limited to smartphones, computers and tablets. They are everywhere, including appliances, medical devices, thermostats, sensors embedded in manufacturing and supply chains, and vehicles – including shared bikes and scooters.
One of the keys to the success of micro-mobility is the technology to manage fleets using IoT. This technology is especially important given the criticism of electric scooters in recent years – that they can become a nuisance, when due to human error, they are left in locations outside of docking stations. Keeping an eye on a micro-mobility fleet ensures that these vehicles are where they are supposed to be and in good working order.
Micromobility meets sustainability
EY describes the growing popularity of micro-mobility as “an unexpected popular success story,” with electric scooters becoming “the fastest growing mode of transportation ever documented.” The reason? The quest for a “more sustainable urban transportation system,” EY observes – a “multimodal” system that offers the potential to “help reduce car use in cities.”
Electric scooters, electric bikes and other micro-mobility options are certainly more energy efficient than cars. They don’t rely on fossil fuels, which means their use doesn’t deplete the planet’s limited resources. And they do not emit greenhouse gases, which means they do not contribute to climate change.
Production costs are also low for micro-mobility vehicles. Dozens of electric scooters can be purchased for the price of a single electric car, and electric bicycles are even more economical. Add to that the economic benefit of sharing assets – for example, renting bikes and scooters on demand – instead of owning them outright.
In addition, electric scooters and bicycles are often convenient for urban transportation. Users can rent and go; then, at the end of the trip, the scooter or bike can be dropped off at a docking station or simply parked – a much easier, faster, and less expensive process than parking a car in a garage.
The major players are committed
Big players in the transportation ecosystem are expanding into micro-mobility – a testament to the growth potential of this sector. For example, Spin launched in 2017 as a San Francisco startup; it was later acquired and is now the micro-mobility unit of Ford Motor Company. Spin was just acquired by TIER Mobility
Lime, also based in San Francisco, operates electric scooters, electric bikes, traditional bikes, and car-sharing systems, encompassing the full range of micro-mobility services. Uber, Lime’s lead investor, showcases micro-mobility options on its app. Similarly, Lyft’s app supports micro-mobility, such as electric bikes and scooters, in a number of cities, including showing users all available transportation options in their area on a single panel.
As more entrants enter the micro-mobility space, their ability to manage their fleets and provide connectivity will be a competitive advantage.
Micromobility is another example of the power of sustainability as a force for change. It’s also a reminder for business leaders to look beyond the internet when thinking about connectivity. By taking a ride on an electric scooter or renting a bike, leaders will see firsthand how micro-mobility and IoT are creating more robust real-world experiences.