BT is set to provide sensor-enabled and connected bike lights to up to 180 cyclists across Manchester in tandem with Northern Irish cycling company See.Sense.
The partnership is part of CityVerve, the UK’s smart city demonstrator, set up by Manchester City Council and 21 other organizations, including BT. The program aims to show citizens the potential benefits of smart city technology, with this particular project aiming to improve the safety of cyclists.
Data, data everwhere
From August 14, See.Sense sensors, known as ICONs, will be used to track anonymized data in a cyclist’s environment around the city of Manchester. The ICONs supposedly connect to an app on Android phones via Bluetooth – the app is not currently available on iOS – where data such as the quality of the road surface, light levels, as well as cycling routes, collisions and near-miss events are transmitted back to BT’s Internet of Things data hub.
The aggregated data collated by the hub will be presented to city planners working with CityVerve in a uniform way, BT claims. The company suggests that by acting as an information broker its hub lowers the barrier to participation in the IoT ecosystem.
“Easy access to the data will help developers turn innovative ideas into applications in many areas, including planning ways to improve cycling infrastructure, and creating policies to promote cycling in the city,” a company statement reads.
Irene McAleese, co-founder of See.Sense backed this statement up, saying: “Better data will help to make cycling more visible to policy makers, and allow cities to take adaptive, data-driven decisions. This will also provide the opportunity for improved integration of cycling into the city’s mobility plans.”
Opportunities beyond improved safety
In addition to data collection, See.Sense is helping to improve safety for cyclists. The company’s connected lights are designed specifically to be daylight-visible, enhancing cyclist safety in all lighting conditions, while flashing brighter and faster in riskier situations such as round junctions and roundabouts.
Professor John Davies, chief researcher of future technologies at BT, said of the program: “There are wide range of opportunities emerging from the real-time data collected from the lights and other sources stored in our platform, bringing valuable insights for the city’s infrastructure and policies, and helping develop a safer and better cycling experience for the people of Manchester.”
The lights are heavily subsidized as part of the trial and will be available to participants for only £10 instead of the usual RRP of £79.99, but must be collected at nominated collection points. The trial will run from the 14th of August until the end of the CityVerve project, and the cyclists can keep using their lights at the end of the trial, the companies say.