There’s a lot of technology you can put on a scooter these days. Right now, we’re using that tech for quite a few different things, but improving everyone’s parking habits is one of them.
So, what are we up to? Let’s start with the three biggest problem areas when it comes to parking; overcrowded areas, tipped scooters and parking in the wrong place are the three main reasons for poor parking. This is how our tech is helping.
1. Overcrowded areas
- Overcrowding happens when a location is very popular and a lot of people want to park there. We are piloting a product in a couple of cities in the UK that lets us control the number of scooters parked in a specific location to avoid overcrowding. This technology allows us to prevent riders from ending their ride there until the congestion is cleared.
2. Tipped scooters
- At any given point in time, about 0.5% to 1% of our scooters are not upright. But any time a Voi scooter gets tipped over, we get a notification. The scooter’s accelerometer detects if it’s upright or not and automatically tells us if it’s not standing up. This information gets fed to an internal app and our parking patrols and ambassadors can then get to work and fix the problem.
- It’s easy for our parking patrols to know where to go as the GPS technology in every scooter lets us know where every scooter is.
3. Parking in the wrong place is our biggest concern
- We’re stopping people from ending their rides in certain areas – no parking zones. It means that our riders need to keep on moving until they get to a spot where they can park. This can be an incentivised or, in some cities, a mandatory parking zone.
- We’ve incentivised parking, giving riders credits for ending their trip in recommended parking spots marked with green in the map. Since we can see where every scooter is to the metre, we can also connect every scooter to the rider on it and reward that rider for parking in the best parking zones in the city.
- We have projects in several cities where riders have to photograph their scooter in order to end their ride. This feature is called Parking Photo. By requesting users to take a photo of their parked scooters we are encouraging them to park well. The photos are then analysed and users who park the e-scooters improperly will receive an email containing a warning and educational information or in worst cases even a fine. This feature was launched in February in the UK and is now being rolled out in other cities. Our data suggests that our users are paying attention and good parking behaviour is improving.
- We’re putting computer vision on some of our scooters with the help of the Urban Mobility Safety Platform Luna. This is a new pilot project being tested in the city of Northampton right now. The AI technology will be able to detect when a scooter is parked incorrectly. The computer vision will also be used to detect pedestrians and ensure scooters are off the pavements.
Some of these technological innovations are completely new and we continue to develop them using the data we have. “Since the ‘Parking Photo’ feature was introduced in early March, illegal parking has decreased 45% in Liverpool”, says Kristopher Nolgren, Senior Product Manager at Voi.
While we have the technology to direct our riders to designated parking areas, we believe that improving city infrastructure to better accommodate bikes, e-scooters and decreasing the amount of cars and motorcycles in urban areas in European cities will dramatically improve safety for all road users.
A recent study from the Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics about parking solutions for shared e-scooters revealed that convenience and proximity play an important role in how effective solutions are in promoting good parking behaviour. Both parking racks and painted bays are most effective when placed in areas where people typically end their trips as most people are only willing to walk 1-2 minutes to park in a dedicated parking spot.
Everyone wins from good parking and we’re going to keep on continuing to nudge our riders in the right direction so that parking is never an issue for free mobility in the cities we operate in.
To find out more about how to park safely, please visit: voi.com/how-to-park/