Give a beep


Our creative director Alistair recently signed up to take part in London Cycling Campaign’s interesting Give a *beep* initiative.

LCC have teamed up with the Swedish company Hövding (who make the airbags for cyclists) to create the initiative.

The project uses flic buttons: wireless smart buttons which hook up to iOS or Android devices. You can assign up to three different actions to the button at any given time (using a single click, a double click, or by holding the button down) via the flic app available on the App store, or on Google Play. Those actions could be setting off an alarm on your phone so that you can find it when it’s lost, triggering the camera on your phone, or playing some music. Some of those actions are pre-designed by developers such as Spotify or Google, but you can set up your own too using IFTTT (If this, then that).

Here’s the button Alistair was sent:


For the Give a *beep* initiative, 500 of the flic buttons were given out free to cyclists in London (you can still buy your own from the flic shop though). Those cyclists were asked to assign the Give a *beep* action to their buttons via the app, and to then stick them on their bikes. Here’s Alistair’s in place:


The idea is that cyclists press the buttons, or *beep*, when ‘they’re cycling and feel at risk; whether from high traffic speeds or volume, or a poorly designed road layout.’

The locations of those beeps are then logged, slowly building up a map of the danger spots throughout London where cyclists regularly feel most at risk. Here’s how the map of the centre of town looks after the initiative has been running for just a couple of days:


You can also set the button to send an email to the mayor’s office, though Alistair didn’t do that, feeling just a tad hesitant about giving up control of his email account to an app.

It’s a great use of location based data, and the button is a dead smart way of allowing that data to be recorded really simply while on the move. We’ve been wondering if there might be further uses for the same tech / cycle combo – perhaps logging potholes in winter? Or perhaps in a positive way, recording places where cyclists feel particularly safe, where new cycling infrastructure has really helped?

  • Zoe Telford

    I was sent one of these from LCC and it doesn’t work. The Customer Care folk at don’t seem to be able to explain why not.

    • wemadethis

      That’s a shame Zoe – ours seems to be working well…

  • Phil Buckley

    The google provider with flic needs logging in all the time, which means that in practice it’s not usable. It doesn’t even prepare an offline email to be sent later, it just fails.

    I’ve tried to play with the app to use IFTTT rather than google but it seems that the give a beep action is hard-wired to use google. How come?