Singapore-based oBike has introduced “geofencing” in a move designed to address local authority concerns about unused bicycles obstructing rights-of-way and cluttering public spaces.
Going live on oBike’s mobile app today, geofencing enables users to leave bikes in designated parking areas which appear on the in-app map. Users will be notified via the app when they enter these virtual enclosures so that they know they are parking the bike in an appropriate location.
The company said that there are over 1,100 designated parking zones for its bikes in Singapore, typically located next to bus stops and train stations, and in public spaces such as shopping centers, parks, and housing estates. Many of these are outlined on the ground with a painted yellow line, but some are completely virtual and can only be found by viewing on the oBike app.
Not all of these designated zones are geofenced at this stage. OBike plans the full rollout to be complete by the second quarter of next year.
Memorandum of understanding
OBike indicated that geofencing was stipulated in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) it recently signed with the Singaporean government’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) along with its two main competitors in the city-state, Mobike and Ofo.
This came after authorities expressed concerns that the companies’ dockless bikes were being left in places where they cause a nuisance.
Users who hit zero points will no longer be able to use oBike’s service.
During the first three weeks of June this year, the LTA attached removal notices to around 600 dockless bikes that were illegally parked. Of these, 135 were eventually impounded because the operators failed to remove them within a 12-hour grace period.
Other initiatives reportedly agreed under the MoU are the development of a single app platform for the general public to report illegally parked bicycles and a common response time among the three companies for their removal.
OBike introduced a points system to penalize “negative behavior” – like parking bikes illegally or failing to lock them – back in April. Such acts lead to points deductions, while “positive behavior,” such as reporting faults, gains points.
The company said today that users who do not park their bicycles inside geofenced areas or other designated parking zones will receive a notification in the app. Once the current trial period of 6 months is over, users will have 10 points deducted each time they are found to have parked outside a designated zone. Users who hit zero points will no longer be able to use oBike’s service.
On the other hand, those who consistently park in the specified areas will be rewarded with points, which they will be able to accumulate and eventually exchange for things like shopping vouchers and discounted hotel stays.
One of the more recent entrants into Singapore’s bike-sharing scene, SG Bike – which launched a pilot service in the city’s Holland-Bukit Panjang district in August – also employs a form of geofencing. Riders must park in the vicinity of a “geostation” device, which emits a radio-frequency identification field (RFID) that recognizes if the company’s bikes are parked nearby. These RFID geostations have a typical range of 5 meters.
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