Business Informatics (VLBA) student team presents results on European open bicycle data

The Oldenburg University (Business Informatics – VLBA) student project group Bicycle Data recently presented its final results on the analysis of European cycling data to the interested public. The almost two and a half hour digital event was embedded in a BITS Academy, which took place as part of the EU-funded project BITS – Bicycles and Intelligent Transport Systems. Almost 200 participants from all over Europe had the opportunity to learn more about the potential of the preprocessed cycling data sets as well as to contribute interactively and give feedback to the project. For a duration of one a year, the students worked intensively with bicycle data of the research projects BITS and SmartHelm, the latter which is funded by the mFUND program of the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). The results of the developed project website were presented in detail.

In their introduction, Kevin Mayne (Cycling Industries Europe) and Johannes Schering (VLBA, standing in for Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jorge Marx Gómez, head of the department) pointed out very clearly the potential of cycling in Corona times and the relevance of the availability of relating bicycle data for cities and regions. The SmartHelm part of the presentation presented first results of the Cognitive Systems Lab of the University of Bremen as part of a current running augmented reality study that is partly conducted during cycling. Urban Plangger of project partner of UVEX SPORTS presented live a first prototype of the attention-sensitive smart helmet, which is supposed to support bicycle couriers during their working process by an EEG measurement, EyeTracking and digital glasses (AR display of the Microsoft Hololens2). The students themselves dealt intensively with the EEG data collected by the helmet. Using various machine learning approaches, it was investigated whether distractions can be identified and types of distractions can be determined on the basis of initial laboratory study data provided by the University of Bremen. For this purpose, various artificial neuronal networks were trained, as presented by Thilo von Glan, Marwin Kröger and Marvin Büchel of the project group.

Urban Plangger (UVEX) presents the first prototype of the smart bicycle helmet (Youtube).

For further development of the website and the related improvement of the user orientation, the feedback of potential future users, especially from municipalities, traffic planners or software developers, is very desirable. Therefore, the final presentation did not just consist of PowerPoint presentations; the participants were also able to actively contribute their ideas. In this context, the audience was asked in a poll 1.) which information should ideally be visualized on the AR display of the helmet’s glasses, 2.) which potential data sources could be used for the visualization and 3.) in which other application scenarios besides city logistics the intelligent helmet could potentially be used. The feedback was obtained based on an interactive Miro board which allows the participants to contribute their specific ideas. From the participants point of view the focus was particularly on traffic safety: For example, accident or critical points in the infrastructure, the distances when taking over by motorized traffic, information on the condition of the road or the stress level of the rider could be displayed. Navigation suggestions, weather information or points of interest for recreational cyclists could also be displayed. For bicycle commuters, information on train stations or bicycle parking facilities could be made available, while citizens could be given the opportunity to report dangerous road spots or problems in the infrastructure.

The second big part of the presentation focused on the processing, harmonization and publication of European cycling data on the Bicycle Data website as part of the BITS project. Anselm Fehnker, Franziska Ernst and Dennis Schulte discussed the challenges of data harmonization. The work of the student team showed very clearly that bicycle data is collected and published in many different ways differing country by country and city by city (e.g. by bicycle counting stations or apps). The missing common understanding of how to collect cycling data makes it very difficult to compare different cities. In order to be able to find correlations between different data sets, an extensive data preprocessing was necessary. The Bicycle Data website also provides new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), graphs and visualizations on bicycle use (e.g. apps, sensors, bicycle parking) or road safety (near accidents) in Europe. To enable all interested parties to use the processed data sets for further purposes as traffic planning or software applications, these can be downloaded as open data on the website. The functions of the Bicycle Data website were presented in detail as part of a live demonstration by Jan Stüven, Simon Czapski, Tugba Dalmaz and René Rohde. The KPIs and the other functions of the website need to be evaluated by practitioners and adjusted accordingly to their demands. Accordingly, the topics of bicycle counting, tracking / sensor data, traffic safety (near accidents) and the technical background in the development of the website were discussed intensively in four break-out sessions. Various potentials for further technical developments and improvements were identified with the participants.

As part of the interactive break-out sessions the results of the data team, here the bicycle counting data, were discussed with external stakeholders (Zoom).

A central goal of the BITS project is to make European bicycle data available. For this purpose, the BITS project as a whole is working on an European open data portal with special focus on cycling data, the so called CyclingDataHub (CDH). The BITS Academy was therefore rounded off with a live demonstration of the Hub which is based on ArcGis by Kim Verbeeck from the Province of Antwerp (Belgium). Similar to the mCLOUD of the BMVI, external cycling data sets of other external websites can be linked to the CDH. Interested stakeholders from municipalities, transport planning, business, research or other interested parts of the society will be enabled to publish their cycling data as open data sets. A corresponding call for data provision was recently published on the official cycling portal of the BMVI in Germany, which you can find here.

The Bicycle Data project group is very pleased about the huge interest in their successful work on European bicycle data. The project team consists of eleven masters students from the academic field of (Business) Informatics. The huge data base which was built up as part of the project provides a strong fundament for further data-based work in the research projects BITS and SmartHelm. The recording of the digital BITS Academy can be watched at Youtube. The project team gives thanks to all external participants and stakeholders, the project partners for their active contributions and Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) for organizing and hosting the event.

As part of the official launch of the CyclingDataHub (CDH) all interested stakeholders are invited to publish their existing bicycle data sets as open data (Province of Antwerp).