How the Internet of Things benefits the Sharing Economy

Tags: IoT
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Written by
Andrew Worth
So you want to be able to develop a bike-sharing service, or perhaps you have another inventive sharing concept in mind. There is an obvious need to track and maintain the products that you have put into the world, and this is one of the many areas where the Internet of Things and sharing economies go hand in hand.

The idea of building a service that allows people to pick up and drop off a product as they please sounds like it would be prone to theft and misuse. However, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) connectivity, many of these challenges can be met head-on and are becoming a thing of the past. 1oT is in the foreground getting your devices, whatever they may be, connected so that you can focus on the other aspects of your business. 

From cars & bikes to umbrellas

The benefits of IoT and M2M connectivity are plentiful when it comes to the sharing economy. Portable items that can be reused by the community have become very popular over the last few years and have become a key element in the drive towards smart cities. With bike sharing services appearing in cities all over the world, the success of Citi Bike in New York, Bycyklen in Copenhagen, and Ofo and Mobike from China has shown that there is enough demand to propel sharing services, but so far keeping these devices connected, trackable, and secure has been one of the main problems that need to be addressed.

Location Tracking

Having a connected device means always knowing where your device is, no matter who is currently renting or borrowing it. This can be especially important for shared cars and bikes which are, by design, mobile. The ability to pinpoint the location of your devices is twofold, first, it allows your customer to precisely find it, and secondly, it allows the owner to know where their customer is taking it or has left it. The Chinese bike share company Mobik has collaborated with Gemalto in order to provide a wireless connection to their fleet of bikes. This allows their bikes to be tracked directly, without the need to use their customer’s smartphone as a tracking device, as their competitor Ofo does.

Theft Prevention

Alongside being able to track the location of a device, there is the obvious benefit of helping to prevent the theft and misuse of your device. By simply knowing the location of your devices, the problem of them simply ‘walking away’ is drastically lowered. As previously mentioned, Mobike and Ofo have pursued different methods for tracking their bikes, and by embedding an IoT SIM in their bike Mobike has made the bike more secure and trackable whereas Ofo’s system actually allows the previous user to simply remember the combination lock code and take the bike without paying. Additionally, embedded connectivity allows for the device to be found and retrieved if it has been tampered with or abused in some way. On the other hand, the umbrella sharing startup Sharing E Umbrella suffered from the theft of its devices due to the inability to track and log the location and user of its umbrellas. The founders modeled their design after popular bike-share models, however without any effective way to track their umbrellas and prevent them from being stolen, they all eventually disappeared.

Analysing use patterns

Even if determining the exact location is not the main aim of the sharing concept you’ve developed, understanding the usage patterns of your devices can provide invaluable insight into how your customers are using your service. By analysing use patterns you can better prepare how to expand into new markets and services, or simply keep up to date on the frequency and usage duration of your typical user. All-in-all, being able to better analyse your use cases down to the individual device level is an extremely powerful level of insight to help guide your business development goals.

How 1oT helps

1oT has the right connectivity solutions for all levels of production, from prototype to production. Using our scalable solutions allow you to maintain unified control of your devices connections whether you are testing out a new concept, already managing devices or both. Our awesome management tools, included in the 1oT Terminal, allow you to maintain the most complete overview of your devices, including location, notifications, and diagnostics and many more tools in a feature-rich platform built for device makers.
For more information how we can help get you connected feel free to get in touch at sales [at]