Bird takes flight with geo-fenced speed zones

Community Safety Zones will limit scooters to speeds no greater than 8mph around schools and parks

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US scooter rental firm Bird has announced plans to trial a ‘digital geo-fencing system’ to slow traffic in pedestrian-heavy areas including around schools.

The company, which operates shared electric scooters in more than 250 cities across Europe, the Middle East and North America, said it would use 5G connectivity to limit its vehicles to travel no more than 8mph in designated ‘community safety zones’.

Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app uses radio frequency identification (RFID), Wi-Fi, GPS, or 5G mobile data action when the device enters a defined virtual area - in this case an automatic speed limiter when the scooters enter the virtual geographic boundary. The Bird software will display a message when a scooter renter enters a geofence to explain why their vehicle is slowing down.

Bird said it is piloting the feature in Miami (pictured left, credit: Natalie Glover), Marseille and Madrid before “working with public officials to implement geofenced zones”, initially focused on schools and parks, in all cities where it operates globally.

Commenting on the initiative, Jenn Fox of the Vision Zero Network safety campaign, said: “It is fantastic when companies innovate to support community traffic safety. Community Safety Zones can support localities working to improve safety for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. We’re impressed by the initiative and Bird’s efforts to listen to local communities and respond to community feedback.”

In the UK, Bird operates in London, Canterbury, Liverpool, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Milton Keynes and Southampton having been approved for use by the Department for Transport last May.

The creation of community safety zones follow Bird’s introduction of ‘Safe Start’ earlier this year, which prompts users to type in a keyword to prove they are sober when they want to rent a scooter between 10pm and 4am local time.

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