Case Study / Brompton Dock - Net Efficiency
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OVERVIEW

The Brompton Dock website is an online registration and booking system for the Brompton bike hire scheme. As well as a customer portal the site also provides a powerful set of administrator tools to manage customer and booking details, payments and refunds, remote monitoring and operation of the bike dock hardware.

THE CHALLENGE

We were approached by Brompton Dock to assist in prototyping a control system for an automated bike hire service, with a fully integrated web based booking and payment system. Their aim was to create a compact, efficient, environmentally friendly bike hire system, deployable with minimal effort in an area no larger than a parking space, and accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.

The control system should operate the bike lockers, provide an interface to users, monitor bike access, interface with the central servers via GSM, and operate all year round off a car battery and solar panels.

The website should provide a clean user journey through registration, reserving a bike, and providing feedback to users and administrators; including monitoring bike stock, peak usage statistics, and user experience.

OUR APPROACH

After building the v1 control system for the 10 bay prototype we conducted several weeks of user tests to refine the user journey. We built the core back-end services for remote hardware control and the user portal to allow our trial users to reserve bikes via the website. The initial design enabled users to make bookings via SMS, but it was soon clear that enough users would have smartphones to be worth replace this with a web app booking solution. With rapidly changing hardware and software, we adopted agile principles early on in development. The v1 trial dock was launched in Guildford.

Our revised v2 control system, replacing swipe card authentication with keypad, was ready for the launch of the full website, along with several new docks across the country. The website included Sage™ Pay integration, a customer portal, and an admin portal with bike monitoring and hardware maintenance controls.

Following this we assisted with a full rebrand of the website and continued to build new features including in depth statistical analysis tools to assess bike usage patterns, promo code functionality, and partner branded pages.

Result

Following several years of growth, the project has been very successful. We delivered a reliable, scalable hardware solution, with a seamlessly integrated desktop and mobile web solution. As of 2017 there are more than 35 Brompton docks countrywide. Brompton Bicycles have increased their stakes in the project and rebranded it to Brompton Bike Hire.

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