The Shuttles Project – Using IoT to Get to Work

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 8:00:00 AM Drew Johnson  
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shuttles1.jpgReal estate in Silicon Valley is booming. That’s true both for the housing market and for the office space market. For Aeris’ office building in Santa Clara, California, that means that the owner is breaking ground on the long-planned additional building that will occupy our current surface parking lot. For all the tenants in our building, that also means multiple years during which half of the cars must park off-site intead of right at the building. Ugh.

The way it’s working so far is that we all got parking stickers. Half got even-numbered stickers and half got odd numbers. Each month, either the odd or even numbers get to park their cars on-site and the others must park off-site. The off-site parking lot is about a half-mile away.

To get people back and forth, the building is running shuttles. I lucked out on the first month – parking was on-site for me. On the second month, I experienced the "joy" of the shuttles. There are two shuttles, and each can fit a maximum of about 12 people.

After riding the shuttles for a few days, I noticed a few things that are annoying:

  • Early in the morning, there’s only one shuttle running … I’m an early riser, so many times, I have to wait in the parking lot while the people just before me get delivered  to the office building and the shuttle can return to pick me up.
  • In the evening, I notice that the shuttles often leave with only 1 or 2 people … even though, if they wait for a couple more minutes, they could have 4 or 5 people.
  • When the shuttles are not there, I have no idea how long it will take for a shuttle to get to me. One could be just about to arrive or maybe the shuttle just left the office building. The route is walkable, and I’d rather walk than wait a long time for the shuttle.
  • Wouldn’t the shuttle drivers also like to know if they should wait a couple of extra minutes? Wouldn’t they also want to know if people are currently waiting?

It seems like information could make the whole thing run more efficiently.

Aeris is an Internet of Things (IoT) company. It’s hard not to go through this thought process without imagining how connecting the shuttles with IoT sensors and technology could help. So we enlisted our office manager to talk with the property manager to get permission to connect the shuttles. Would they support it?

Turns out that when our office manager talked with the property management, they said they were starting to think along the same lines. They also wanted to keep track of the shuttle drivers’ speed and wondered how to manage the safety of the drivers, passengers, and shuttles. They would also like to understand if tenant employees are waiting a long time and when the peak times are. Yep, property management definitely supported getting the shuttles connected.

There are actually three stakeholders interested:

  1. The employees in the building who want to get picked up as quickly as possible.
  2. The property management who want to make sure the shuttle drivers are efficient and safe.
  3. The shuttle drivers who want to do their jobs in the best way possible.

Looks like we’ve got a project. Watch this blog for more details on how we're implementing an IoT shuttle solution using Neo SIMs for connectivity, AerCloud for data collection, and AerVoyance for data analytics.

Read part II here and part III here!

Topics: Fleet Management, sensors, transportation