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Tapping IoT to Improve Marketing, Logistics, and Data

The Internet of Things (IoT) has made a huge impact across many industries in recent years. The ability to collect real-time analytics from dispersed machines and devices has opened up a whole new world of opportunity. IoT is a connection of devices that capture data; this collection of data allows organizations to increase efficiency and productivity through the assessment of IoT analytics, which in turn, cuts costs for companies. IoT will continually play a large role in the future of marketing, logistics, and data analytics – just to name a few.


Maven Wave has leveraged Google Cloud Platform products as well as Google Maps APIs to develop innovative IoT solutions. These solutions open up and expand revenue opportunities that were previously not possible or considered. In this blog post, we detail how we created an IoT solution for a local bike share company and the impact this data can have on their business.

Real-World Application of IoT: Chicago Bike Share

Maven Wave created a real-world IoT application by leveraging an open-source data set for a bike rental system in the Chicagoland area that has 580 stations and 5,800 bikes. Riders use a mobile application to locate Chicago Bike Share stations to pick up and drop off their bikes. The device used to capture this information is n radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag at each of the 580 bike stations. In turn, the application gives company’s visibility into what station each bike is checked in and checked out at, as well as how long each rider’s trip lasted.

The data set is a collection of statistics from the past three years, including information about each ride, availability stats, and basic rider information. Maven Wave took this data set and created a few business cases that could be achieved through IoT technology:

  • Develop a real-time visualization of the number of bike levels at each station
  • Identify territory optimization to anticipate when stations need to be replenished
  • Provide the company with marketing partnership opportunities
  • Pinpoint the most profitable bike station locations

Building an IoT Application

The IoT application was built on top of Google App Engine and leverages multiple Google Maps APIs, such as the Directions API, Javascript API, Distance Matrix API, and Places API.

To begin, the team pushed the data set from Chicago Bike Share to Cloud Pub/Sub, a real-time messaging service that allows you to send and receive messages between independent applications. The IoT application uses Google’s Cloud SQL database with a query that can digest the large set of data points and return the ouput to the user in a relatively quick time frame. To visualize the data, Google’s Data Studio was used to illustrate the numbers on dashboards.

Business Cases

Creating a Real-time View

As a bike share company, it’s essential for Chicago Bike Share to maintain a balance of available bikes for riders, as well as enough slots for bikes to be returned at each station. To demonstrate bike availability, Maven Wave applied real-time bike data streaming from their docking stations and demonstrated bike availability on a map. The application allows users to see if a station is at a high, low, or empty number of bikes (blue, yellow, red), which allows for Chicago Bike Share to see which stations need to be stocked as a priority.

Real-Time View of docking station availability of bikes
Blue – High Availability
Yellow – Medium Availability
Red – Low Availability

Territory Optimization for Bike Replenishment

With real-time viewing on the IoT application, there is visibility into which stations need restocking. However, to properly replenish each station in a timely manner, Chicago Bike Share must take the number of trucks available to restock, as well as the location of stations that need additional bikes to be dropped off, into consideration. By utilizing historical and real-time traffic data, the application initially optimizes the most efficient driver to be assigned stations to drop off bikes. Taking the application a step further, each driver also has their individual route optimized to arrive at each station as quickly as possible. With a real-time application, Chicago Bike Share has the ability to increase efficiency by optimizing their drivers territories and individual driver routes.

Advertising Opportunities

Advertising partnerships are currently an unexplored revenue stream for Chicago Bike Share. Between Chicago Bike Share docking stations, there are numerous cafes, restaurants, and attractions. In the IoT application, there is a marketing tab that suggests points of interest between the rider’s starting location to their final destination station. Based on this predictive path/zone, different partners would have the option to advertise through Chicago Bike Share, adding an additional revenue stream for the company.


The IoT application takes the collection of data and provides a visualization for the company to evaluate their profitability. By determining “high traffic” stations, Chicago Bike Share can assess each station’s revenue with insight into what locations are generating profit. Therefore, the company can decipher the stations with high profit vs low profit. This information will allow them to make more informed business decisions about placement of their docking stations in the future.

New addition coming soon to the Chicago Bike Share application include predictive capabilities, new modes of replenishment for truck placement, and advanced truck positioning. The business insights IoT can provide for the enterprise are virtually endless.

Request a demo here to learn more about how IoT can benefit your company. 

July 17th, 2017

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