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Amanda Billark
Amanda Billark

Akendi Alumnus

IOT and the Future of Bicycle Security

Like many of my teammates in the Toronto office, I cycle to work almost every day during the warmer months. It is hands-down my favourite way to travel and experience the city. Since my bicycle is my main source of transportation (and I average about 25km/day) I like to ride a good quality bike to improve my experience, get me where I need to go faster, and with less effort. The downside of this is having to constantly worry about my bike while it’s locked up outside – and for good reason. Bike theft is a big problem in our city – and a nice bike is a prime target.

About a month ago, my worries became my reality when my bike was stolen from outside of my home in the middle of the night. It was locked properly using a heavy duty U lock, but that wasn’t enough to deter the bike thief from stealing my precious bike. While I always think about my bike’s security and always make a point to lock it up properly,

I never really put much thought into my bike lock’s physical design beyond purchasing a popular brand known for its strength and for being theft proof. However, after recently losing and having to replace my bike, I was determined to prevent this from happening again and started the hunt for a better lock.

What I found in my local bike shops was disappointing to say the least. The best theft-proof designs consisted of heavy, bulky U locks (in the style I had). The only great improvement being, a rather ridiculous combination of a U lock and a large metal chain to loop around your tires. While I ended up buying a very slightly improved version of the lock I had, this whole experience got me thinking about how both the physical design and overall experience of these objects are due for a much needed update.

With our recent work planning and designing for IoT613, it got me thinking about how the Internet of Things might change the bike lock design and its potential to improve and enhance the experience of parking my bike in general. IoT will change and improve a lot of our lives’ daily tasks and the objects we use to accomplish them; bike locks and parking systems included.

Here are 3 Ways IoT is About to Change Bike Security

Security and Tracking Systems

Instead of constantly worrying about your bike parked outside, IoT enabled locks can send notifications to your smartphone the moment your bike moves unexpectedly from a parked position. It can also allow you to set off an alarm remotely to scare away potential bike thieves and stop them in their tracks. If those systems are unsuccessful, you’ll know your bike’s exact GPS location at all times and have the ability to track your bike from the moment it is stolen and send a police report at the touch of a button.

Keyless Access

No more having to worry about forgetting your keys, losing them, or fiddling with your lock trying to get it opened. IoT will allow you to effortlessly lock and unlock your bike by just walking up to or away from it. This feature will also enable bike owners to share their bikes with friends and family via their smartphones, allowing them the same keyless access through permission settings via an app on your smartphone.

Finding a Parking Space

Bike parking on a busy street downtown can quickly turn into a 20 min excursion if there are no free bike racks available. It’s easy to imagine a complementary system being incorporated into the bike racks themselves that would show you the locations of the racks nearby and where there is a free space available.

While these concepts may seem futuristic, there are many products with similar features currently being developed and about to hit the market. I’m anxiously awaiting for such products to become available and experience for myself how IoT can make bicycle parking easier, more convenient and less worrisome hence improving my overall cycling experience.

If you’re interested in learning more about IoT,  join Akendi at IOT613 - Ottawa’s Internet of Things Conference. It’s happening September 24 & 25th and Akendi will be co-hosting this interactive two-day conference exploring how IoT will shape our daily lives, the products, businesses and governments of the future.

Amanda Billark
Amanda Billark

Akendi Alumnus

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