E-scooters have become a very popular mode of transportation, with operations expanding worldwide. It’s easy to see why people like them; electric scooters are filling in important gaps in our modern transportation system.
An e-scooter is a faster way to travel than walking, and it provides more flexibility than traditional public transit. Riding an e-scooter is more affordable than owning a car or using a rideshare service (not to mention, the cost doesn’t fluctuate with the price of gas). Speaking of which: e-scooters are, of course, powered by electricity, and are therefore a more sustainable option than traditional car ownership.
Despite all of these unique benefits, the industry has faced its share of criticism as well. In particular, some are concerned about the impact of e-scooters on public safety and accessibility. These concerns are not to be brushed aside; every person has the right to safe and accessible transportation.
These concerns can be addressed – at least in part – with location intelligence. Highly detailed, up-to-date maps can make all the difference when it comes to ensuring that e-scooters are used properly, maximizing the benefits while mitigating the risks they may pose to safe and accessible transit for all.
Location intelligence can directly support 3 main e-scooter functions – let’s take a closer look.
Geofencing – the practice of setting virtual geographic boundaries – can serve a variety of functions. Some cities require a pre-set area in which e-scooters will operate. Some e-scooter providers incentivize riders to park in designated geofenced zones. Regardless, in the interest of safety, ease of operations, and compliance with local regulations, geofencing is an incredibly important tool to ensure e-scooter success. Location data is essential for this practice, and the higher-quality the data, the better the results. With hyper-detailed maps, it’s possible to take infrastructure into account (e.g., is this road wide enough to accommodate e-scooters?) to optimize areas of operation for maximum safety and efficiency.
Most accessibility concerns around e-scooters stem from their use on sidewalks. E-scooters are intended to be ridden on roads rather than pedestrian pathways. So, if companies can ensure that their scooters are used appropriately, it greatly alleviates accessibility concerns. This, again, may have implications for both compliance with local regulations as well as protecting the safety of riders and the general public.
This is where location data comes in: a dataset that’s accurate within 3 cm can serve as the base for ‘sidewalk detection.’ With a map this precise, an e-scooter ‘knows’ when it’s being ridden on a sidewalk, which triggers some change – usually, the vehicle slowing down to a pre-determined safe pace.
Location intelligence can also provide accessibility information about the sidewalks themselves, including the slope, width, and condition of the infrastructure at any given point.
GeoMate’s location intelligence supports sidewalk detection with over 85% accuracy and 0% false positives. That means that our maps can almost always tell when an e-scooter is on a sidewalk, and we do not mistakenly report that an e-scooter is on the sidewalk when it is actually on the road.
Integrating location data into internal maps can allow for features like routing and navigation. Customers can plug an address in and receive the best route – specifically along which e-scooters are actually allowed to operate. This greater convenience for riders can set a micromobility company apart in the quickly-growing industry.
These functions are essential to e-scooter operations, but they provide further benefits, too. Micromobility doesn’t exist in a vaccuum, after all, and several business outcomes are greatly improved by the use of location intelligence.
Safety features (like sidewalk detection) and precautions (like geofencing) can greatly improve insurance rates for e-scooter providers. Often one of the biggest costs for these businesses, using the most accurate and complete geospatial data creates the potential for dramatic cost savings on insurance.
If an e-scooter company can prove their commitment to public safety, it goes a long way with the communities in which they operate. Many cities are trying to find a ‘happy medium’ in which residents can use micromobility without compromising public safety. Often, their solution is to require more from e-scooter companies before allowing operations. This can take the form of providing robust data and/or safety features, like sidewalk detection.
The benefit of partnering with a location intelligence provider, in this case, is that it allows a company to share the necessary data and/or set up the required safety features before beginning operations. Companies can kickstart expansion into a new city with a proactive plan that streamlines the process.
A natural extension of these positive business relationships? Even more opportunities to flourish.
Location intelligence is a scalable solution for quick but responsible expansion. Not to mention, it builds trust between municipalities and the industry. These successful partnerships pave the way to widespread operations by providing a framework. After all, if micromobility can thrive in some cities, why not all?
All in all, like any other form of transportation, e-scooters have their pros and cons. But leveraging location intelligence is the first step towards responsible operation that limits the risks and allows the benefits to shine. A thriving e-scooter industry is one that can prioritize public safety and accessibility, scale operations, and maximize profits.
GeoMate works with both municipalities and micromobility businesses to optimize urban mobility. We’re revolutionizing the e-scooter industry with our globally-scalable location intelligence. We’d love to connect & help you meet your goals – contact us for more information!