Dublin gears up for five smart solutions to cycle problems

16 Sep 2016

The five companies receiving funding are Ambie, Fluidedge, Hidnseek, Limeforge and Smartcharge. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

With safety and theft two of the main reasons people won’t cycle in Dublin City Centre, the council has dipped its toe in the ‘smart’ market, with five companies on hand to help out.

Dublin City Council (DCC) has offered up a tranche of funding to five businesses, with a view to finding smart solutions to the city’s cycling difficulties.

Armed with €12,500 each, Ambie, Fluidedge, Hidnseek, Limeforge (See Sense) and Smartcharge will now aim to prove the viability of their proposed solutions, taking in bike security, monitoring and complementary street lighting along the way.

Smart City Dublin Cycling

Big interest

Part of the council’s Small Business Innovation Research competition, the final five were chosen after whittling down an initial 98 expressions of interest.

“A key aspect of our ‘Smart Dublin’ initiative is to test new ways for the Dublin local authorities to pilot and understand the possibilities of using innovative technologies to solve city challenges,” said Owen Keegan, DCC’s CEO.

The companies have three months to develop their solution to pre-prototype stage, after which some will be selected for further funding (up to €25,000 each) to complete their prototype solutions.

“There are real opportunities to use these new low-cost innovations to better understand cycling patterns and experiences,” said David Timoney of Dublin Cycling Campaign.

Smart city signage

Citing a shift towards “evidence-based decisions” from the council, Timoney said tracking sensors were of particular interest.

“Solutions to address cycle theft in Dublin through smart tracker devices have the potential to dramatically reduce bike theft levels, currently estimated at a staggering 20,000 annually in Dublin alone,” he said.

The most interesting of the five is Smartcharge, which is looking to pair bikes with on-street sensors that will react to their presence, alerting drivers of cyclists through systems such as the lighting up of street signs.

Enterprise Ireland’s Kevin Sherry said he and his organisation are “excited” to be partnering up for this pilot project.

“We congratulate the phase one winners on their innovative solutions, which will improve the cycling experience and safety of bicycle users in the urban area,” he said.

*This article was amended on 16 September at 15.40 to accurately reflect the claim of bike numbers stolen annually

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic