As Birmingham and Homewood kick electric scooters to the curb, Bird introduces 4 tech products to ‘help local governments incorporate and manage e-scooters’

Bham Now staffers Wade Cline and Cody Short take two Bird scooters for a ride in Southside. Photo by Jen Daniel for Bham Now

Bird hopes its new GovTech platform will placate Birmingham, Homewood and all the other municipalities where the company operates in the U.S. Local governments can access it for free. Is this the answer to our scooter woes?

Bird: Sorry ‘Bout All Those Scooters, Birmingham. Can We Be Friends?

So many things since Bird came to town! After the company swooped in and left their electronic scooters on city streets without obtaining business licenses, Birmingham and Homewood impounded some of them.

Now Bird wants to introduce free tech products to coordinate with the more than 40 cities where they (try to) operate. It’s called GovTech.

This whole app thing would have made a great starting point, said every municipality with e-scooters on their streets, ever.

Birmingham, Alabama, Bird, Scooter
Two Bird scooters on the sidewalk of 20th Street South, in Birmingham. Photo by Jen Daniel for Bham Now

It’s An API

Bird’s GovTech platform is an application programming interface (API). APIs enable software components to interact with one another via sets of routines, protocols and tools. When you use your Facebook app, you’re using an API, in case you needed an example (because I did). Here’s how their chief executive explains it:

“The cities we serve are Bird’s number one customer and partnering with them to deliver the data, insights and products they need to advance their mobility programs and reduce congestion in their communities is essential,” said Travis VanderZanden, chief executive of Bird, in a release.

“We see this as the next phase in creating true partnership and integration with the more than 40 cities we operate in today.”

Bham Now staffer Wade Cline operating a Bird scooter on 20th Street South. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

Here’s what the new API offers the Bird app:

1. It Has A Dashboard

The Flight Control dashboard tracks vehicle status and trip data to create aggregated and categorized reports, specifically addressing any complaints for cities.

2. It Has Geo-fencing

The Bird app will be able to indicate locations where e-scooters are prohibited. These locations can be modified over time to reflect various events that may impact ride zones. Geo-fencing will also be used to alert riders on where to find designated parking zones and to avoid no parking areas.

3. It’s About Safety

The app aims to provide individuals the ability to easily report incidents of unsafe riding, riding on sidewalks or poor parking. Bird says they want to remind riders to follow all rules of the road, and take any further actions necessary against repeat offenders.

4. It’s About Educating Riders

The app will feature prominent, customizable messages at the beginning of every ride, educating riders about local rules and safe riding. Cities will be able to request particular, everyday messages such as “no sidewalk riding,” as well as date-specific messaging such as providing guidance on riding behavior during major holidays and events.

Will Birmingham and Homewood see this an extended olive branch from Bird? Do you?