Cycle Score: using RFID tags to reward cyclists

| February 21, 2012

Fredericia Cycle City has developed a brand new concept, a reward system based on the use of Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on bikes to electronically record every time a bicycle arrives at work or at school.

The idea to use RFID tags to record cyclists is not new, but the implementation of RFID technology in terms of motivating citizens to cycle, is completely new in Denmark. Despite having only been in existence for less than 2 years, Fredericia Cycle City is aiming to increase cycle traffic by more than 25 percent; an aim which is only achievable by focusing on new and interesting ways to reward, encourage and support cycling as an easy, healthy, handy and sustainable means of transport.

Promote bicycling by rewarding positive behavior
One of these new initiatives is Cycle Score, which seeks to promote cycling by rewarding positive behavior – the more time you spend on your bike, the better your chance of being rewarded by winning a prize. The national Danish campaigns “Bike to work” and “Bike to School” are proof of both children and adults being willing to spend more time on their bikes, when prizes and competitions are being used as a motivating factor. However, both of the mentioned campaigns require manual data entry and ticking off, which prevents a continuously updated and instant picture of the acquired data. Moreover, it is known that the required manual data entry plays a part in people deciding against participating in the campaigns, which only run for a few weeks once a year.

Taking all of this into consideration, Fredericia Cycle City has developed a brand new concept, a reward system based on the use of RFID tags on bikes to electronically record every time a bicycle arrives at work or at school. By making the collection of data automatic, it is incredibly easy to join the campaign, which runs all year long.

Cycle Score is thus meant to create competition among the workers and among the schoolchildren, based on who – which grade or which department – are currently the highest ranking in terms of trips made. Prizes include gift cards for local restaurants, cinemas and shops, bicycles, wine, chocolate and so forth. The participants mount an RFID tag onto the wheel of their bicycle, and then link the tag – every tag has en individual ID number – to a person by means of a web-based interface (www.CykelScore.dk). All data are confidential and are used only for statistics and for communicating with participants/winners.

Consequently, when a bicycle with a RFID tag with is passing a receiver, the bicycle is automatically recorded. The receiver is located in a container the size of a control cabinet, displaying a red light on the front which blinks to ensure a passing cyclist, that he or she has been recorded. In terms of the Cycle Score campaign, the container is referred to as a “checkpoint”.

The checkpoints are placed at the entrance to various workplaces and schools at strategic locations throughout Fredericia, and must have access to the workplace or the schools wireless Internet. The collected data is marked with a date and transferred continuously. In Fredericia, the participating workplaces and schools have all been offered the checkpoint and RFID tags free of charge.

The system may be expanded by the possible inclusion of GPS tracking – which 70 percent of Danish mobile phones are able to – by applying an application which is currently being developed. The application enables tracking of trips made on a bicycle, recording activities in “virtual checkpoints” by dividing the city of Fredericia into zones, with no need for physical installations. The website will consequently be made accessible from a mobile phone, once the application is available.

www.CykelScore.dk functions as a database, receiving all recordings from checkpoints throughout the city. Participants may log on to the website at home or at the office to track their performance, dividing their recordings into daily, weekly, monthly and early statistics on their own performance. In terms of schools, the figures are shown for each class, for every school and all schools combined. For workplaces, the figures portray every department, every workplace and all workplaces combined. Based on a system in which every recorded day of cycling generates a “ticket” in a virtual lottery, the system will extract winners from the database; making it possible for every participant regardless of the number of “tickets” to secure a prize. However, the more “tickets”, the greater chance one stands of winning a prize. The checkpoints only allow one daily recording = 1 Cycle Score. Passing by two, or perhaps five checkpoints will however secure additional cycle scores, seeking to motivate cyclists to lengthen their trips, take a detour on the way to or home from work, or to go on a bicycycle trip at the weekends to secure points.

As previously mentioned, the concept is new to Denmark. Nevertheless international experiences do exists; in similar projects on American schools, the children manage to cycle more than Danish schoolchildren, despite a considerably lower starting point.

The beginning of Cycle Score
Fredericia Cycle City has acquired 18 checkpoints. Based on an advert in a local paper, 189 citizens reported their interest in the project. Subsequently eight schools and ten workplaces have been invited to participate in the campaign. The project is presently in the start up phase; the city hall of Fredericia being the first workplace to have enrolled in the campaign, with more to follow in the next few weeks. The initial responses to the campaign have been very good, with people showing great interest in the placement and status of the checkpoints, the prizes and the ongoing friendly competition among colleges.

The potential of Cycle Score
Once an evaluation of the present project can be made, it will be assessed whether the concept possesses the potential to be scaled up to cover the entire country. Moreover, the project forms the basis of an application to the European Union, seeking to spread the concept to seven countries.

What´s New?
The idea to use RFID tags to record cyclists is not new, but the implementation of RFID technology in terms of motivating citizens to cycle, is completely new in Denmark. Subsequently, the project will demonstrate the technology as well as its effect on the users – combined with a campaign promoting the concept. Similarly, the possible use of GPS tracking in terms of an application for mobile phones, will unlock a great potential of more users; basically anyone who owns a Smartphone and a bike in Denmark!

Essentially, Cycle Score thus equals a unique promotion of cycling; a campaign highlighting the efforts of the participants online, while continuously rewarding the cyclists all year round. This type of campaign has never been demonstrated before, making it a concept with a great national – as well as international – potential.

Troels Andersen, head of cycle projects in Fredericia and chairman of the Cycling Embassy, will be presenting the ideas of the cycle score project at this years Velo-City Global conference i Vancouver. Furthermore, a new cycle score project is underway, funded by the EU.

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Category: Danish Cycling Know How

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