Bike theft is making CitiBike unsafe for users. In 2016, There was nearly a 60% increase in theft of CitiBikes NYC-wide, with a 100% jump in Manhattan. For theft due to improper docking or parking outside a CitiBike station, CitiBike charges each user $1200 + tax, often leading to consumer outrage. To prevent users from unsubscribing from CitiBike, there needs to be a bike-tracking system to ensure safety. CitiBike is currently privately held and VC-backed, which means the funding it receives depends on its future growth rate. With NYC’s new law of June 2019 allowing electric scooters, CitiBike has competitors, threatening its popularity among tourists and possibly long-term subscribers.

Proposition: Since short-term users using CitiBike pay more for each use, when their safety is threatened, they would tend towards self-locking scooter systems like Bird which are easier to use.

Citibike’s valuation is $48.3 mil with a recent $100 mil investment from Lyft.

However, its competitor, Bird, is valued 6 times greater at $275 mil, with an additional $300 mil investment from Lime.

Insight: Prototyping a physical theft prevention device to attach onto CitiBikes would prevent bike theft.

What it does

Connects to CitiBike device on iOS or Android using IoT. BikeSafe can be installed on any CitiBike. It's equipped with GPS and accelerometer in order to detect if the bike is stolen. Equipped with RFID. You can lock/unlock it with your CitiBank ID Number.

How I built it

Trip Data Sets: April 2017, April 2018, April 2019 (New York) Method: Using the COUNTIF function, I identified when the end station, usually indicated by a number, said “NULL”. Results: 348, 362, 386 Insights: 29% increase in stolen bikes from 2017 to 2018, and a 38% increase from 2018 to 2019 Alerts both the user and CitiBike when a bike is improperly docked, so that the user might return and dock properly. Alerts both the user and CitiBike when a bike is docked outside a station and at risk of theft. In case of a stolen bike, tracks the path the bike takes using a GPS tracker.

Challenges I ran into

Testing BikeSafe requires a physical Arduino to give commands to. Testing BikeSafe also requires an accelerometer and GPS on the device, and access to CitiBike’s API.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

If a bike has not been returned to a station, it has been stolen. This was a fair assumption to make since it’s unlikely a user would want to pay $1200 to keep a CitiBike. Integrating a physical bike theft prevention device would make users feel more safe and in control, giving CitiBike a competitive edge, and increasing CitiBike’s overall membership and thus VC funding.

What I learned

That data analysis is my new jam

What's next for BikeSafe for CitiBike

In the future, BikeSafe can be equipped with a cloud server, so that the user can log into their CitiBike account to fully control the lock.


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