Urban Infrastructure Partner: expanding urban sharing platforms with ease on Google Cloud Platform

About Urban Infrastructure Partner

Urban Infrastructure Partner (UIP) provides sustainable, efficient, and profitable ways to increase and improve urban mobility. Its full-service solution offers financing, delivery, and operation of intelligent infrastructure to create integrated and on-demand mobility solutions for forward-thinking cities. To learn more, visit www.urbansharing.com.

Industries: Technology
Location: Norway

Norwegian bike sharing platform is expanding rapidly by building an infrastructure with Google Cloud Platform that could handle more data and be able to scale up quickly and reliably to meet the rapidly changing needs of the cities it serves.

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50,000 users generate 2.1 million bike trips in first year

Oslo’s popular bike sharing platform is run by local tech startup Urban Infrastructure Partner (UIP). Just six months after the launch in 2016, UIP’s platform was working so well that the company made plans for expansion into other Norwegian cities. However, its traditionally-hosted infrastructure was only designed for bike sharing in one city. To properly expand, UIP needed a resilient, cloud-based infrastructure that could scale with the company’s success and ambitions. Google Cloud Platform fit the bill.

“The system we had was purpose-built for bikesharing in one city,” says Geir Arne Brevik, Product Manager, Urban Infrastructure Partner. “What we're building now is a platform for sharing many things in many cities at once. Google Cloud Platform lets us scale to do that on a whole new level.”

“The system we had was purpose-built for bikesharing in one city. What we're building now is a platform for sharing many things in many cities at once. Google Cloud Platform lets us scale to do that on a whole new level.”

Geir Arne Brevik, Product Manager, Urban Infrastructure Partner

Scaling for success, staying agile

Handling multiple data streams reliably and efficiently is the cornerstone of any mobility platform and UIP is no exception. In its first year, its 50,000 users generated 2.1 million bike trips across the city, an average of 9.8 trips per bike per day. In addition to keeping track of its users, bikes, stations and trips, the platform is designed to create free-flowing feedback channels so that UIP can quickly respond to customers’ needs. In 2016, the company had 36,000 one to one conversations with customers, helping to enhance its service. As the platform thrived, the company began to expand its scope conceptually and geographically. Bike sharing and mobility was the first iteration of a sharing platform that aimed to take full advantage of urban assets across Norway and beyond. With planned rollouts in Bergen and Trondheim, the company needed to build an infrastructure that could handle more data and be able to scale up quickly and reliably to meet the rapidly changing needs of the cities it serves.

After assessing where it was headed and what its options were, the company chose Google Cloud Platform. Its ease of use and suite of high level services meant that UIP could maintain its current staff level, while going with another provider would have meant more than double the number of employees. Migrating its architecture over to Google in modules, UIP preserved the integrity of its operations while learning and exploiting the new infrastructure’s advantages. With Google Kubernetes Engine, Kubernetes and Container Registry, Urban Infrastructure Partner can quickly deploy Docker containers and leave much of the management to Google. Google Cloud Pub/Sub’s ease of use and speed allows UIP to scale quickly in complexity as well as size without dropping performance. Meanwhile, Firebase provides vital app performance analytics for UIP’s mobile-centric platform. The company’s data scientists use Google BigQuery and Google Data Studio to store and quickly analyze the platform’s archive of historical data to optimize day to day operations like reducing repair times for bikes.

“One of the key figures that really led us to GCP was that it makes it easier for us to keep the team small and nimble in the first few years,” says Johan Høgåsen-Hallesby, Chief Technology Officer, Urban Infrastructure Partner. “Looking at the roadmap we had, on Google we saw that we could get away with ten to twelve people. And then more than double that number on the other platforms. That's a pretty big difference for a startup!”

“One of the key figures that really led us to GCP was that it makes it easier for us to keep the team small and nimble in the first few years. Looking at the roadmap we had, on Google we saw that we could get away with ten to twelve people. And then more than double that number on the other platforms. That's a pretty big difference for a startup!”

Johan Høgåsen-Hallesby, Chief Technology Officer, Urban Infrastructure Partner

Optimizing the present, preparing for the future

Google Cloud Platform has given Urban Infrastructure Partner a sharing platform that can meet the demands of its current and future challenges with ease. UIP can keep its staff nimble, agile and focussed on its core issues rather than DevOps. With Google Cloud Platform at its core, UIP is going from strength to strength. In addition to its planned expansions into new cities in 2018, UIP is developing the next generation of its platform to include smart bikes that carry their own SIM cards, powered by dynamo hubs. To prepare for this upcoming tidal wave of data, UIP is learning how to take full advantage of Google’s suite of machine learning tools, leveraging powerful predictive analytics and automation to help the platform adapt to new environments.

“It really comes down to spending time solving problems as a startup and not spending it on infrastructure the way we would five years ago,” says Johan. “With Google Cloud Platform, we just don’t spend that much time on infrastructure and when we do it’s fun! We feel like we’re actually creating. What we build now will help us with what we build tomorrow. Cities are changing really fast right now. We’re setting ourselves up for change, rather than building something static. That's where Google aligns very well with our goals. When we see Google launch new services that we can quickly integrate, it makes us faster. ”

About Urban Infrastructure Partner

Urban Infrastructure Partner (UIP) provides sustainable, efficient, and profitable ways to increase and improve urban mobility. Its full-service solution offers financing, delivery, and operation of intelligent infrastructure to create integrated and on-demand mobility solutions for forward-thinking cities. To learn more, visit www.urbansharing.com.

Industries: Technology
Location: Norway

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