Are E-Scooters the Future of City Transportation?

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Consultant

Electronic scooters seem to be just about everywhere these days, having appeared almost overnight. Companies such as Bird and Lime have placed these dockless e-scooters in cities around the country, in some cases successfully, in others with much resistance.

E-scooters can offer cities a way to meet environmental goals and reduce city congestion by reducing the number of cars on the roads — if incorporated into an integrated smart transportation plan in combination with other transit options. The apps these e-scooters leverage and the GPS signals they track can easily be integrated into existing traffic monitoring systems to provide a more complete picture of real-time traffic.

This new transportation option has not been met with open arms in every city. In fact, some cities have confiscated and impounded e-scooters after they have been deployed without city permission. Other cities have made pre-emptive actions banning the e-scooters. E-scooters appear to be facing similar city regulatory problems that ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft faced in the past.

E-scooters can provide significant benefit to a city and its residents if properly integrated into the city’s infrastructure. Here are steps e-scooter providers can take to collaborate with city officials to ensure better acceptance:

  • Collaborate on a common platform: Through agreements made with cities, leverage a common city-wide mobile app that provides residents with one portal to access everything from bus routes to paying for a scooter ride. This common platform will need the assistance of mobile developers, but also city-wide Wi-Fi to enable resident access throughout the city. The platform would most likely be cloud-based, allowing cities to scale up and adjust the platform as needed.
  • Establish agreed-upon geographic parameters: Rather than relying only on the GPS included with e-scooters, incorporating Bluetooth can add more exacting location tracking. Bluetooth technology could enable city officials to collect real-time data on the location of e-scooters and ensure they stay within pre-determined geographic allowances. It could even aid city officials in identifying more strategic and economic places to drop the e-scooters.
  • Develop metrics to track performance and results: Leveraging a common mobile app and the data provided by the GPS and Bluetooth tracking, cities will collect vital data that can inform and direct the development of future transportation design. This data will need a robust analytics platform that provides rich results in near real-time for city decision-makers. Again, cloud-based technology will be key here to allow data to be shared and accessed by users.

While there are still many legal, regulatory and even cultural hurdles that prevent e-scooters from widespread deployment, they do possess the potential to have a huge impact on cities and their future transportation plans. With the assistance of mobile apps, networking and Wi-Fi as well as analytics, these e-scooters can become a robust city partner and a vital component to any city transportation plan. It’s the incorporation of the underlying platform and the external technologies that will be vital to future of city transportation.

Want to learn more about how your technology can supplement cities’ efforts in transportation? Contact the immixGroup Market Intelligence team for more details.

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