offfstock - Fotolia

Vodafone to power bike sharing service in Singapore

Vodafone’s internet of things platform will support Mobike’s global expansion plans

British telco Vodafone will be supplying internet of things (IoT) connectivity for bicycle sharing company Mobike’s operations in Singapore, underscoring the rising demand for network services to support a growing number of internet-connected things.

According to Vodafone, the connectivity will support the key features of the Mobike service, including the GPS navigation, which helps consumers to locate and book an available bicycle, and the proprietary QR code-based locking system. The GPS system is powered by a solar panel, removing the need for manual charging.

Unlike other traditional bicycle sharing schemes that require customers to return bicycles to dedicated racks, Mobike bicycles can be parked at designated public bicycle parking areas or bicycle parking coils.

“Vodafone’s market-leading IoT platform is helping to power successful sharing economy players around the world,” said Vodafone’s head of IoT, Ivo Rook. “Mobike has been hugely successful in its home market and we look forward to seeing how our suite of IoT services will be able to help to support its global expansion strategy.”

Mobike’s head of international expansion, Florian Bohnert, noted that the company was looking for a partner that could provide support worldwide. “Vodafone has proved to be an engaged and innovative partner and offers a global footprint which matches our ambitions,” he said.

Mobike launched in April 2016 and now operates in 33 cities. It has more than one million bikes in operation, and has completed more than 200 million journeys.

In its latest round of fund-raising, Mobike has secured more than $300m, including investments from Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. The Singapore launch is the first step in plans to take Mobike to other markets in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Urban mobility part of Smart Nation programme

Besides Mobike, China-based firms oBike and ofo are also offering similar bicycle sharing services in Singapore, which has earmarked urban mobility as one of the focus areas in its Smart Nation programme.

The city-state’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) had planned to introduce a national bicycle sharing scheme, however, those plans could be shelved with the entrance of commercial players, the Singapore government revealed on 8 March 2017.

On the public transportation front, the LTA has been using data analytics to better manage bus fleets, reduce crowdedness and improve timelines. It has also been experimenting with self-driving vehicles.

Read more about ASEAN smart cities

These efforts, along with other initiatives in the Smart Nation programme, could receive a boost when the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDG) is formed in May 2017.

The SNDG, which will come under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office, will comprise GovTech, the government’s technology agency, and the Smart Nation Digital Government Office. Announced on 20 March 2017, the organisational changes are aimed at speeding up the implementation of Smart Nation projects.

In particular, the SNDG will work with LTA to further exploit existing and emerging technologies to improve public transport, enhance urban logistics and ease traffic congestion.

Besides driving digital transformation in the government, the SNDG will develop a national digital identity framework similar to Estonia’s e-residency programme, as well as a national sensor network to spearhead adoption of IoT applications by government agencies. 

Read more on Internet of Things (IoT)