Is the Internet broken at Mobike?

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t perfect, we know this much to be true.

Inside the IT industry (if not outside, as well) we know that the IoT just kind of ‘happened’ and that the levels of security provisioning needed to keep most of the devices populating the IoT itself were never put in place at the start.

As we get used to living with connected devices, new challenges appear to appear every day.

Chinese headquartered bicycle hire company Mobile already knows a thing or two about the difficulties it faces keeping its ‘stationless’ bikes in order.

The Guardian newspaper has already reported the firm’s departure from Manchester last September (it’s first European test deployment city) citing the prevalence of ‘theft and vandalism’

“We launched in Manchester in July 2017, with Mancunians taking some 250,000 trips, cycling over 180,000 miles. However, during the summer Mobike suffered increased bike losses dues to theft and vandalism in the city,” notes Mobike, on its company blog.

London calling

Fans of Mobike will no doubt be hoping that London doesn’t follow the Mancunian predilection for bike vandalism (no doubt propagated by a select delinquent few)… especially given the fact that the River Thames provides a perfect dumping channel for those without enough common sense to respect property, wildlife and other people’s enjoyment of our capital’s fabulous river.

But could social media channels (Twitter being the obvious primary route) help us to report mislaid or damaged bikes?

The answer must surely be yes… but for these systems to work, we also need the companiess themselves to be listening (hence the reason for this story). We can put all the software integration and connectivity into the IoT we like, but when the human factor is missing, the whole system can sometimes break down.

It’s now February 18, 2019 and I have been Tweeting two images of a Mobike that has been carelessly dumped in the Thames near Plantation Wharf in Battersea Reach for a week now since February 11th.

Mobike has not responded and the bike is still in the river, exposed only at low tide.

The company tweets at @mobikeuk and the firm’s last post at the time of writing served to highlight its departure from Manchester.

Surely firms who work with IoT business models that end up putting equipment of any kind out into our towns and cities also have a responsibility to stay connected and monitor the state of the environment around their devices, don’t they?

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