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Sigfox helps roll out bike sharing network in Singapore and Taiwan

Steve Rogerson
November 29, 2017

A geolocation services for one million bikes on Sigfox’s global LPWAN is being rolled out starting with Singapore and Taiwan. This follows a partnership between bike-sharing company oBike and IoT network operator UnaBiz.
For bike-sharing companies, cases of misuse, vandalism, illegal parking and bike loss have cast a shadow over the popularity of their services. Pressure from regulators is also an on-going global issue. As an early adopter of new technology, oBike is tackling the problem head-on.
"Our partnership with UnaBiz to deploy geolocation for our bikes is a commitment of oBike's on-going initiative to improve overall user experience,” said Edward Chen, co-founder of oBike. “We have evaluated all our options carefully and have concluded that Sigfox is the best fit for our business model. Its low-cost global network is the only LPWA network readily available in Asia and Europe where we are currently operating. A single contract with UnaBiz spares us the hassle of having to negotiate with multiple network providers, and this is crucial as we are fast expanding globally."
Presently, the operator's bikes are connected to their bike-sharing app via Bluetooth and 3G and 4G network. When a user concludes his or her ride, the user's phone will send a signal of the bicycle's last location to oBike's cloud so that the service provider can put its location back on the map.
However, if a bike is moved when locked, oBike will not be able to track and trace it. That is where UnaBiz can fill the gap. By using Sigfox's LPWA network, the bikes will be able to transmit their location data at regular intervals directly to oBike's cloud without relying on the user's Bluetooth or cellular network. Sigfox's long-range, low-power technology allows oBike to monitor their bicycles around the world more efficiently and effectively.
With timely updates on the locations of bikes, oBike is able to operate more efficiently by matching the demand and supply of bicycles according to the areas of need. This not only helps curb irresponsible behaviour such as illegal parking and bike hogging, but also reduces the problem of theft and vandalism.
"We are dedicated to working closely with the authorities, councils and other relevant stakeholders to improve bike-sharing etiquette and encourage civic-mindedness in the city,” said Chen. “Geolocalising our bicycles not only improves overall user experience, it is also in line with our long-term vision of creating an economical, responsible and sustainable bike-sharing culture."
Recently, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority set out mutually agreed guidelines with bike-sharing companies to improve public safety and reduce inconveniences caused by public shared bikes. Under the agreement, operators will have to adopt geo-fencing technology by the end of this year.
"We are very excited to partner with oBike to help them increase their global operational efficiency,” said Jonathan Tan, vice president at UnaBiz. “UnaBiz will demonstrate the pervasiveness of Sigfox's network, starting with Singapore and Taiwan, where we have achieved a service coverage of over 95 and 80% of the population, respectively. Our network is ready and this partnership affirms the level of confidence our partners have in us. It is a win-win-win for oBike, UnaBiz and Sigfox."
UnaBiz is the exclusive network operator for Sigfox in Singapore and Taiwan.
Founded in 2010 by Ludovic Le Moan and Christophe Fourtet, Sigfox is headquartered in Labege near Toulouse, France's IoT Valley. It also has offices in Paris, Madrid, Munich, Boston, San Francisco, Dubai and Singapore.
"The Sigfox network connectivity is designed to be simple, low cost and highly scalable,” said Roswell Wolff, president for Asia Pacific at Sigfox. “It is built and designed for partners with a global footprint. OBike's requirement for geolocation is the perfect use case, where scalability and cost are key. With coverage readily available in 36 countries worldwide, and 60 countries by 2018, Sigfox is ready to support and work with UnaBiz to be a partner in oBike's global expansion."
OBike is southeast Asia's first smart bike-sharing company. It first launched in Singapore as the country's first station-less smart bike-sharing operator, and has since expanded to over 30 cities in ten countries worldwide in under a year. There are more than two million users across southeast Asia alone.