Photo: Melanie McMullen
The increasing popularity of bicycling as a sport and a means of city and campus transportation have made bicycles an easy target for thieves. According to the National Bike Registry, more than 1.5 million bicycles are stolen every year. Anti-theft IoT technology has the potential to drastically decrease the frequency of bike thefts—and the frustration it causes the owners.
Making Tracks with IoT
A security-focused startup company, Sherlock, based in Turin, Italy, hopes its latest anti-theft solution will significantly reduce bicycle theft. In early September, Sherlock established a partnership with communications provider Orange Business Services to create a global bike tracking and data solution that uses a management portal and IoT connectivity to decrease bike theft incidences.
Sherlock’s niche is creating anti-theft solutions for a wide range of vehicle types. It has developed patented Intensive Antitheft Marketing® technology that involves etching an alphanumeric code on main vehicle components. The code, which is associated with a vehicle identification number, is stored in a secure database and makes it possible for law enforcement and insurance agencies to locate rightful owners. The technology is available for many different moving vehicles, including:
- Automobiles and light trucks
- Motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles
- Heavy trucks
For the recent partnership with Orange, Sherlock is gearing up for more automation. It plans to incorporate SIM cards created by Orange to prevent bicycle theft across Europe and North America. The current design plan entails embedding the SIM card into a bike’s handlebars. The SIM card will wirelessly sync with and transmit data to a mobile application, which is downloaded by the bike owner.
According to Sherlock, the Orange SIM card will contain a GPRS module for low-energy Bluetooth capability and Internet connectivity, as well as GPS for identifying the bike’s location. Manufacturers, retailers and retail solution providers will be in charge of installing the SIM card on the inside of the handlebars, while bike owners are tasked with activating the card via the mobile application on their phone (after the purchase of their new bicycle). An aftermarket solution, the module comes with two years of network connectivity included in the purchase price.
Once installed, the IoT device is virtually impossible to detect by thieves, and it requires no alteration of the bike design. An additional safeguard against theft is what Sherlock calls a “bike passport,” a digital document that identifies each bike. The bike passport was developed through a partnership with the Turin City Police, and it contains all the elements needed for an individual to prove their ownership of the bike.
When a bike has been moved or tampered with, the SIM card’s Bluetooth capabilities allow the owner to receive notifications on their phone. Thanks to the GPS module on the SIM card, bike owners can get real-time data and track the location of their bike. The police can also access the data to aid efforts to retrieve stolen bikes.
On the Road with Disruptive IoT
The partnership between Orange and Sherlock is a positive one for the bicycle industry, especially because technological solutions to car theft have previously been prioritized over protections against bike theft.
In a recent release, Fabrice de Windt, senior vice president at Orange Business Services in Europe, said “the Orange collaboration with Sherlock proves how digital transformation can be a disruptive force, creating new services that respond to people’s changing needs and expectations.”
Lock in a Partnership
Since its inception, Sherlock technology has been used in more than 1 million vehicles. Its distribution network is comprised of more than 600 partners. Its extensive registry system is supported by insurance companies in collaboration with police forces.
Learn more about how to form partnerships with Sherlock.