19 fév 19

Tom Nutley, Stage Intelligence: Introducing AI to Latin America

Stage Intelligence is an artificial intelligence (AI) company focused on micro-mobility, also known as last-mile mobility. The London-based company has built a platform that optimizes the use of bicycles in a dock-based bike sharing scheme by matching supply to demand in a dynamic and balance way.
Deemed the BICO platform, it manages the movement of bicycles by acquiring information from various data points in order to best optimize operations. Already present in Europe, the United States, and Canada, the company is now set on improving last-mile mobility solutions in Latin America. In this brief Q&A, CEO Tom Nutley sheds light on whats happening in the region.   
Could you give us an idea of where the BICO platform is operating in Latin America?
TN: We have a deal with Brazil's Tembici bike-sharing for schemes in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, with Central American bike sharing operator BKT bicipública (BKT) for its MIBICI bike sharing system in Guadelahara, Mexico, and with CityBike Perú (subsidiary of Spanish transportation and mobility company Moventia) to support a bike-sharing scheme in Lima, Peru.
What type of data does the platform track?
Among the information we acquire are past and present traffic data, weather conditions, ridership patterns, the number of resources (e.g bikes or their relocation trucks) available in a particular region, as well as the average speed and capacity of these bike relocation trucks.
What is the objective of the platform?
Two of the main objectives are to enhance rider experience and to promote environmentally friendliness. As for riding experience, our goal is to assure riders that bikes are available at departure points and spaces are available at arrival points. The last thing you want is to find a bike to ride to work and then once you arrive, there is no space available to park it. For us, we assure that this will not occur in 98% of the cases and this is done through continuously studying ridership trends.
Basically, bike share systems need to compete with collective transportation systems (bus, train, metro). To do so, they need to be in the right place and at the right time. As for being environmentally friendly, we position stations so that optimum job orders occur at any given location. By doing this, we reduce the journeys of bike relocation trucks as stations are actually serviced by balanced user demand.

In one of our schemes in 2017, we were able to reduce truck driving by approximately 100,000 miles.
Moreover, we have actually reduced the number of trucks needed in one of our schemes. When we first got the contract, it was a 2,000-bike system with 220 stations being serviced by 14 trucks per shift. We have now been able to achieve a 6,000 bike system being serviced by only seven trucks. Removing 50% of your fleet is a huge environmental impact.
Finally, stimulating the use of bicycles of course reduces the carbon footprint in cities.

Tembici bike station in São Paulo city (source: Globo)
Do you work with dockless bike-share schemes as well?
TN: Right now, we only deal with dock-based providers. However, we are looking into the dockless model but more for systems looking to use preferred parking locations. For dockless systems, we must keep in mind that it is very difficult in terms of balancing out the location of your bikes.
For instance, a dock-based provider in a large city like London or Rio de Janeiro could have 2,600 bikes or so and be set up with 260 stations. With a dockless model, maybe only 500-1,000 bikes would be used but each an every one of those bikes is actually a station. This is a much more dynamic and complex scenario.

We are actually talking with providers in Mexico and accross Latin America about how to create synergies across both models, discussing issues such as optimal parking locations and maximum capacity levels.

Can the BICO platform be used for corporate bike sharing systems?
TN: Our platform is scalable so it could be used for B2B bike sharing schemes of various sizes. However, to get optimal compensation, it would probably be better for sharing schemes of 200 bikes or more. Its just that smaller schemes may not have the resources to have bike relocation trucks available to service their network of stations.
What about car-sharing?
TN: The technology is completely transferrable and we are actually in discussions with several different shared mobility providers. It could be used for car-sharing, ride-hailing, taxi services, scooter-sharing, and actually any type of last-mile solution provider. 
One thing that is different, when comparing car-sharing to bike-sharing, is that a car-sharing system is more static at the moment so usage per unit is less. For us, we feel that cars are more likely to be rented if the vehicles have stations.
Authored by: Daniel Bland