Two Australian technologists have put their savings into a national database that could help police identify lycra-clad cyclists and stolen bikes.
The three-year-old venture, bikeRego, offers tamper-resistant QR stickers that can be linked to an individual’s online profile and scanned by free smartphone apps.
Co-founders Shane Paola and Jacques De Villiers expect bike owners to attach about three stickers in prominent spots on their bicycles to deter thieves, as the tamper-resistant tags may damage paint if removed.
Registration details are hosted in Australia by a global cloud computing provider and may be updated by registered users. A bike owner may thus send out community and social media alerts in case of theft.
Paola pointed to a 2009 Australian Cyclist magazine report that estimated bike theft to cost $14 million a year in Australia, where 1 in 10 bicycle owners were likely to have their bikes stolen within five years.
In case of an accident, he said police could identify cyclists by scanning the QR tags on their bicycles, as few cyclists tended to carry ID in their “tight lycra outfits”.
Paola said bikeRego had been in contact with police for the past 6 to 12 months, and Victoria Police had been particularly supportive of the venture. The entrepreneurs will approach CrimeStoppers this week for a potential partnership.
He described bikeRego as a part-time venture; both he and De Villiers still have day jobs at a “large US IT vendor”, but hope to turn bikeRego into a full-time, global venture should profits take off.
There are only about 1,000 bikeRego users at the moment; similar databases have had more traction in North America, Norway and the Netherlands.
A Queensland parliamentary committee floated the idea of registration to help identify cyclists and enforce road rules in mid-2013.
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