Cal Poly Collaboration Introduces Breakthrough Technology for e-Scooters to Increase Pedestrian Safety
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. —The Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub), powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), developed a proof-of-concept for potential technologies to address e-scooter issues with sidewalk riding.
The team developed breakthrough technology using readily available electronic parts that cost under a dollar and demonstrated that e-scooters could be inexpensively and easily modified to enhance safety.
The solution will also help reduce e-scooter related injuries for riders and pedestrians, while encouraging individuals to operate these devices on public roadways instead of sidewalks.
When shared micro-mobility devices like e-scooters are ridden on sidewalks instead
of the street, injuries to pedestrians demonstrably increase. The City of Santa Monica saw that despite a widespread public education program and law enforcement officers issuing tickets for violations, e-scooters were still being used on sidewalks.
The City of Santa Monica, led by its Information Services Department, along with the mobility, police and public works departments, identified the need for a real-time safety enhancement solution. Together, they collaborated with the DxHub to address this challenge. The DxHub is part of the AWS Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) program, which works on innovation challenges submitted by public sector organizations in the community who are interested in collaborating and learning from Amazon’s innovation and AWS technology expertise.
Comprised of student employees and staff, the DxHub designed and demonstrated a working model using technology that can detect whether the e-scooter is being used on asphalt (a street) versus concrete (a sidewalk). When the e-scooter is being ridden on concrete, the power to the device is shut down.
In the next phase of its shared mobility pilot program, the City of Santa Monica plans to give preference to e-scooter vendors that incorporate similar technologies.
“The City of Santa Monica was one of the first in the world to enforce digital policy tools to help remedy safety, parking, and over-saturation problems with electric scooters and bikes,” said Kyle Kozar, senior transportation planner at the City Santa Monica. “While we have taken a strong role in public awareness and code enforcement, we needed a solution that could protect residents and riders alike. This prototype, developed in collaboration with the DxHub, proves that a solution could be implemented to address a very real need.”
As the demand increases for micro-mobility across the world, especially as communities reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, governments will need to continue to evaluate safety plans for sidewalks and pedestrian pathways. More people are venturing out and returning to activities of daily life, as the popularity of e-scooters continues to rise. E-scooters present an alternative to public transportation, and some governments are moving quickly to provide this option.
“We couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to introduce this new safety technology,” said Darren Kraker, cloud solutions development manager at the DxHub. “For the foreseeable future, we will need to continue to practice physical distancing, and e-scooters can offer that while providing reliable transportation.”
The DxHub team, consisting of students and staff, works together to develop innovative solutions for public sector customers. Casey Johnson, a DxHub student intern added: “It was a valuable opportunity as a student to have such hands-on experience. I was able to step right in and apply what I had learned to address an immediate problem that the City of Santa Monica was facing.”
The DxHub team develops open source solutions that benefit other organizations experiencing similar challenges, which are available here: dxhub.calpoly.edu/challenges/
 In a study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open1, of 249 patients who went to the emergency department with electric scooter-related injuries, 8.4 percent were pedestrians. The majority of injuries occurred when pedestrians were struck by moving scooters.
About the Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub
Cal Poly’s Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) was one of the earliest collaborations between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and an educational institution focused on innovation and digital transformation. While providing students with real-world learning experiences, the DxHub applies proven innovation methodologies in combination with the deep subject matter expertise of the public sector and the technology expertise of AWS to solve challenging problems in ways not contemplated before. For more information, visit dxhub.calpoly.edu.
About Cal Poly
Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, California. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes, and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose more than 21,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives. Visit www.calpoly.edu.
About Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Innovation Centers
The AWS Cloud Innovation Centers Program aims to empower public sector organizations to create and quickly test new ideas with Amazon’s innovation methodology. Any public sector organization, including nonprofits, government agencies, healthcare organizations and those in education who are facing a challenge can apply to work with a Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) to help identify new approaches to problems, leverage leading edge technology and explore opportunities to better deliver on their mission. The program brings students, researchers and the technology expertise of AWS together to solve public sector challenges through the global network of Cloud Innovation Centers, typically hosted at universities. This collaborative environment gives students the opportunity to engage in project-based learning, where they develop and apply skills that could have a direct impact on how public sector organizations operate and serve the community.
Note to Editors: Short b-roll video clip available here: https://dxhub-static.calpoly.edu/media/short-escooter-no-audio.mp4
Contact: Matt Lazier
August 31, 2020
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