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See.Sense was founded in 2013 by husband and wife team, Philip and Irene McAleese. The couple had given up successful corporate careers to commercialise an innovation in bicycle lighting, invented by Philip.

He designed the world’s first intelligent bike light, in response to a problem he faced as a cycle commuter. He realised that most cycle lights are simply not bright enough to be seen during daylight, which is when 80% of collisions happen.

Those lights that were bright enough had a very poor battery life, or required a heavy external battery pack that is not suitable for the regular commuter.

Using his training as an electronic and software engineer, McAleese decided to integrate the sensor technology normally found in a mobile phone into the bike light, to create a light that’s bright when it needs to be, and conserves energy when it doesn’t.

The smart bike light has since gone on to be sold to more than 100,000 cyclists worldwide. However, brightness wasn’t the only application for the breakthrough technology.

“We realised in the testing of the light that the granular data insights collected by the sensors could be useful to cities – since the light’s sensors map the condition of the road, as well as the rider’s patterns of swerving, braking, collisions, speed and journey,” says Philip McAleese, See.Sense’s CEO.

The sensors embedded in the bike light monitor the environment up to 800 times per second, collecting data and profiling what the rider is doing and what the environment around the cyclist is like. The insights generated by the lights are then transmitted to the cloud.

“With our bike lights this is done via a low energy connection bluetooth to the smartphone. This compatible app offers the user access to unique statistics from rides and to receive power consumption notifications, crash and theft alerts,” explains McAleese.

“Since 2017, we have been working with a number of cities around the world to apply these powerful data insights, with cases primarily focused on cycle infrastructure planning. Cities purchase a bulk number of our lights, and deploy them to specific groups of people,” he says.

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Passive, Anonymous Reporting

Cities and local authorities can benefit greatly from the data collected by the sensors inside the Northern Ireland-based start-up’s bike lights, which can be made available for cities under a license. This data, which is shared in an aggregated and depersonalised way, protects the privacy of the cyclists or scooter rider.

It can help in the detection and prediction of cycling collisions. Reporting of collisions and other incidents traditionally rely on the involved parties making a report. However, unless it is a severe incident, people rarely make these reports.

The swerving and braking data also has a strong correlation with historical collision areas. It is therefore possible to determine a statistical probability that a collision may occur at a specific site.

The data provided by See.Sense can be considered passive reporting, says McAleese.

“We provide the city with a report at the end of the first three months, detailing information from the project, including heatmaps of the city showing road surface roughness, and hotspot areas for swerving and braking across the city. From there, the city can choose to undertake a licence for the continual update of this data provided in a user-friendly dashboards, or by API or data feed, providing a tool to better manage their road surface condition monitoring, as well as safety and performance of their cycling and e-scooters across their city,” he adds.

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Creating Smarter And Safer Cities

Since 2021, the company has been working with B2B customers including e-bike fleet operators and e-scooter operators. This approach uses the same patented sensor technology, but instead of connecting to an app, data is sent straight from the bike to the cloud over a low power wide area network.

European micro-mobility company Dott recently completed a UK trial with See.Sense, to show how its e-scooters can be used to improve road safety for micro-mobility users. A number of Dott’s fleet were fitted with sensors, which monitored rider behaviour on the vehicles for a period of 10 weeks.

The data collected covered 1,800 rides and a total distance of more than 3,300km with over 18 million sensor readings recorded in total.

Maxim Romain, Co-Founder and COO, Dott, says: “Quality infrastructure is key to helping users of micro-mobility feel safe whilst on the road. The results of this new trial, in partnership with See.Sense, reveal that Dott’s vehicles can do more than provide efficient, reliable and sustainable transport for its riders – they can also deliver valuable learnings to create smart cities which are safer and more pleasant for all residents.”

“Safety is a key priority for the city, so Dott were looking for an innovation differentiator for their tender that would tie in with this need, but also a solution that was scalable from a unit cost perspective and could potentially scale beyond the pilot. The successful pilot received a very positive response from Transport for London (TfL),” adds McAleese.

See.sense Co Founder & Ceo Philip Mcaleese Dott E Scooter

“We expect to see cities increasingly taking a more data and evidence-led approach to design.”

Cyclists can choose to get involved in the data collection, and help city planners improve conditions for cycling in their city. Once they’ve purchased their own See.Sense bike light, they can connect their bike light to the free app. They can then start sharing their anonymised data and insights about their rides.

Finally, we asked McAleese what urban mobility will look like by the end of the decade.

“Many cities around the world have ambitious targets to reach net zero by 2030. A shift towards active and sustainable travel is required in order to achieve this goal, so we expect to see significant change towards adoption of micro-mobility. This will require a redesign of streets to accommodate the space needed to share with cars.

“In allocating this space, improved data insights will be crucial, so we expect to see cities increasingly taking a more data and evidence-led approach to design, that increasingly involves citizens in the creation of places,” he predicts.

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