Meet SharingOS, the future of shared-mobility
11 October, 2018
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Amidst the fast-changing mobility industry that is being disrupted by revolutionary technologies, it is also important to pay attention to those companies providing the underlying technological innovations. This is where we find SharingOS, a quickly growing London-based startup powering more than 6 million rides annually. Providing turnkey solutions in multimodal mobility sharing, SharingOS is aiming to establish itself as the leading platform for global mobility sharing schemes.
YoBike, Genesis of a philosophy based on partnership
SharingOS’ story begins with its early adoption of the dockless bike sharing model, launching YoBike in the UK in early 2017. The founders Bin Wang and Michael Qian understood the potential of the bike-sharing model from China, but however knew that the key for success in Europe was to build strong relationships with local stakeholders. This idea was a governing principle for YoBike operations, and the company is therefore collaborating closely with Bristol and Southampton’s councils and local operation teams to ensure that the redistribution of bikes is done sensibly.
An important lesson from the YoBike project was that operations must be led bottom-up: one can only set a working scheme by understanding local needs, regulations and other specific constraints. But it also highlighted that for mobility sharing schemes to work, you need top-down solutions (hardware + software), in order to provide a fully integrated, scalable and reliable system. SharingOS was born to answer that equation: providing the top-down centralised system and partnering with operators who have the bottom-up approach to understand the local requirements. Will Trafford, SharingOS spokesman, made an eloquent analogy with the smartphone OS: “the way to build sustainable interest is to hedge. If Ofo operates like Apple, we want to be Android.”
Strategic developments to lower operational costs
Thanks to its own operational experience and a strong R&D team, SharingOS has developed innovative solutions to reduce operational costs by addressing the main challenges raised by dockless bike-sharing: mis-parking, theft and vandalism.
Along with the development of a lock-shield that reduced cases of vandalised locks, software solutions have been implemented. Parking locations are easy to integrate in the backend software, which helps to reassure local authorities, while geofencing technology is also used to push automated warning and penalties to the user, to have him back in the allowed zone quickly. Choosing to park your vehicle inside or outside an authorised parking zone, returning a vehicle to a free one, will also impact the cost of your ride. By leveraging technology, SharingOS is getting users to do some of that operational work which helps to achieve the goal of low operational costs.
Lowering costs also means quick on-the-ground response: the fleet management system and on-the-ground engineer’s app means that an operational team using the SharingOS system can respond in real time. Once again it helps to secure a trustful partnership with local stake- holders as well are ensuring a sustainable business model.
A long list of partnerships
These technological and strategic choices helped SharingOS to secure partnerships in Ireland (BleeperBike), Sweden (DigiBike), Israël (IsraBike), Mexico (Vbike) and France (Indigo Weel), while announcements for partnerships in the Americas and the Middle East will follow in the next couple of months.
The heart of the SharingOS strategy is that it allows partners to bring local knowledge to each scheme: in vandalism-high Mexico city, Vbike knowledge of the local behaviour along with the different features offered by SharingOS helped to contain the vandalism rate to a minimum. In France, the success of the partnership with Indigo (a giant of car parking operation), who managed to start their service in seven cities across France, while other operators where pulling out of some others, show that the bet of SharingOS was accurate: Indigo’s local knowledge, connection with authorities and operations experience turned the projects into reliable and sustainable ones. As a logical consequence, Indigo and SharingOS have recently launched a joint bike-share + scooter-share scheme in Toulouse, the first of its kind in Europe, which will be set up at full scale in October.
Ready for multimodality and electrification!
Because yes, when you look at the speed of mutation in sustainable transportation, you have to think “multimodality”. Anticipating Uber and Lyft’s recent incorporation of last mile solutions, SharingOS has developed a software system that is vehicle agnostic, meaning that all vehicles can be integrated in one ecosystem. One can already mix, either on the app or on the backend software, all vehicle options offered by the company. With bikes, E-kick-scooters, E-bikes, E-scooters and E-cars, the whole mileage range of urban transportation is covered, and this integration allows an almost infinite data analysis enabling operators or authorities to adapt their fleets to answer the citizens needs at best.
SharingOS R&D team is working hard on preparing its platform’s hardware system for the electrification of all mobility. During Paris’ Autonomy show, the company will showcase its innovative solution for battery swapping: when a vehicle runs out of battery, a user can go to one of these vending machines and literally swap the old battery for a new one. By introducing battery swapping technology to its existing mobility sharing ecosystem, SharingOS is reducing operational costs by shifting the burden of battery swapping to users themselves.
It will not be too long before we see a new disruption in the mobility sharing industry. And it will not be too long either before other regulatory obstacles emerge. For a mature mobility market, regulators and mobility sharing ‘disruptors’ will have to gather and collaborate. SharingOS chose to differentiate itself by combining an operational experience with strong partnerships with local authorities and seems therefore a strong actor for the future of shared-mobility.
Find out more about SharingOS here: https://www.sharingos.com.