This summer Urban Sharing hired three new interns to help with our growing data needs

Jarrod Chlapowski
Aug 12 · 7 min read

Each city we add to Urban Sharing’s platform brings another opportunity to learn how people move in the cities they call home. This year our international expansion has gone full throttle, and already we’ve learned so much more than we have before.

To help us sort through some of this new data, three interns joined our data team over the summer. Meet Stian Mortenssønn Isachsen, Marte Bolstad, and Sam Longenbach. Take a few minutes to sit with us and get to know them — and the projects they’ve been working on — better.

For internships and other opportunities with Urban Sharing, keep an eye on our current openings, or simply reach out to us directly!

Stian Mortenssønn Isachsen

Meet Stian:

I started studying economics after being in the military for a year. I became a bit bored with economics, so I switched to physics, because I’ve always liked mathematics. During my studies I was responsible for a lot of programming. I really liked it.

I like working with visualisations and data in general. I do that in my spare time. I started programming in my spare time, and applied it to sports and other fields where there’s a lot of data available. I started a lot of side projects to get more information in what I’m interested in.

Many of the things I do for Urban Sharing, in Google Data Studio and Sheets, I already do at home. For example, every year I create some visualisations of Olympic-style tournaments with my friend using Google and python scripts.

What attracted you to Urban Sharing?

I had been using the city bikes for the four years I was studying physics in Oslo. I had some of my math courses we studied the movement of different objects. I often thought about the movement of Oslo City Bikes — how one might model the system, and what I would do to optimize the flow of the bikes from one place to another.

I met with Urban Sharing to discuss my ideas, and they let me know about an available internship. I thought it sounded very interesting, so I applied for the internship right away.

What are you working on now?

My main job is to fix the Data Studio dashboards. I focus on making sure the dashboards work like they’re supposed to, and to help implement new features requested by users. I’ve been working on this project for two months. I’ve been spending a lot of my time getting into all the different databases and tables, and learning where everything is located.

I’ve found that there are some naming conventions that could be organized better. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to find the data you’re looking for. So I’ve been working with Hans Martin to improve the functionality of our databases. It’s not as easy as it may sound, as we have to balance between having a really large data table which requires less maintenance but will be more computationally expensive, or many smaller tables that leads to more efficient computing but will require more maintenance.

What do you like about working at Urban Sharing?

I’m a big fan of getting people to ride bikes. It’s good for individual health, and good for a city’s traffic. I can stand behind a company targeting this sort of thing. It makes it easy to work here.

I also like that I’ve been given a lot of room to experiment. For example, recently we have received requests to visualize damage for bikes, because the dataset had just come into BigQuery. Hans Martin told me to try out what I feel is the right approach. So I spent some hours trying to visualize the data and show it to him.

I don’t feel that I’m being strictly watched, and I feel free to experiment and make my own judgements. It doesn’t sound wrong, and throughout my time here, I haven’t seen any unwillingness to try, perhaps fail, then try again.

Marte Bolstad

Meet Marte:

I’m 24 years old. I studied industrial economics and computer science in Trondheim. I live in Lier just outside Drammen, and I’ve been working at Urban Sharing during the summer.

Sometimes you hear that you don’t really use what you learn in school. With Urban Sharing, I found an opportunity to use exactly what I was studying in a real life environment. So I am very excited to take part in this opportunity.

What attracted you to Urban Sharing?

I was enrolled in a course called Optimization, when Hans Martin visited my campus. He spoke about what you guys are doing and how you guys are using optimization in the work you do. I thought what he talked about was really cool, so when he mentioned an internship, I jumped on it.

I really liked that Urban Sharing strives to be environmentally friendly. I was attracted to its focus on the bigger picture, on how it could use its platform to help people move around their city with bikes instead of cars.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the same project as Sam. We’re looking at how we can make rebalancing easier, smarter, and even more data-driven. So we’re trying to give better information to our drivers on where to drop off bikes and where to pick them up. Perhaps it sounds easy, but it’s turned out to be quite challenging.

It can be difficult to know which factors to prioritize. There are a lot of factors that affect the decision on how bikes move. Weather, people, the day of the week, the time of day: we have to bring a lot of assumptions into our calculations. We have to figure out how to make those assumptions better.

What do you like about working at Urban Sharing?

Things happen rapidly here. Changes happen so quickly. Everyone is involved in every task. You can ask anyone what they think, and each person has valuable input for you. It’s easy to find someone to discuss your problems with.

Whenever I talk about what I’m doing, I often hear something along the lines of, “Oh, this is so cool! I have some thoughts on that project as well.” I haven’t experienced that kind of enthusiasm in other places I’ve worked. It’s a really great environment to be a part of.

Sam Longenbach

Meet Sam:

I’m from the United States. I did my undergrad in the state of Minnesota, and majored in math and economics. I’m currently doing my masters in data science in a school in the Boston area. I happen to be applying for summer internships, and Urban Sharing was one of the opportunities that caught my eye.

What attracted you to Urban Sharing?

I love bikes. I also knew that Oslo was on the cutting edge of micromobility, pushing bikes and displacing cars from the city center. So there’s plenty of new technology replacing the old. I find the industry very exciting to work in.

What project are you working on now?

Like Marte said, we’re working together finding ways to fine-tune our rebalancing process.

I think the problem itself is very easily stated. If you think of a bike-sharing scheme as a chess board, every morning you set up the chess board optimally so that every person who wants to use the bike to get to work, or go shopping — or do whatever activity they want to do within the Oslo city limits — has a high probability of having a bike available.

There are no amount of drivers in the world who would be able to replace every single bike in realtime, so we’re trying to always look towards the realistic best case scenario. As Marte said, there’s a lot of chaos in the data. Sure, you have expected patterns on both weekdays and weekends. But all it takes is a festival or special event, and suddenly a station that acts one way for most of the year will suddenly shift behavior.

So there’s so many different factors. But we try to focus on the averages and create some rules of thumb and some general heuristics on what the drivers should do most of the time when these kind of situations come up. This summer we have been working towards a recommendation system for the drivers that takes into account historical data, the current state of the system, and station-to-station driving times in order to make route suggestions to the drivers. This lets us more efficiently balance the system.

What do you like about working at Urban Sharing?

Most places you work don’t have scooters or bikes lying around the office [laughs]. You get to test them. I thought that was very neat coming in.

It’s a very collaborative environment. Everyone’s curious. Everyone seems to have a little bit of knowledge of everything. And everyone’s willing to share it and learn from one another.

Urban Sharing

Urban Sharing is a software platform for forward-thinking mobility solutions. We're creating easy-to-use technology for resource sharing and improved urban mobility.

Jarrod Chlapowski

Written by

Research and Content Specialist for Urban Sharing, a software platform for forward-thinking mobility solutions. Based in Oslo, Norway.

Urban Sharing

Urban Sharing is a software platform for forward-thinking mobility solutions. We're creating easy-to-use technology for resource sharing and improved urban mobility.

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