Strava Beacon & SMS Improving Athletes’ Safety

01 Challenge

Sending SMS from a wearable device

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02 Solution

Integrating omnichannel communications API

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03 Result

SMS messages from athletes' wearable devices all over the world

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Client profile

Strava is the leading app for recreational and professional cyclists and runners to track their progress and connect with a community of athletes around the world. Built around the idea of good-natured competition, Strava has tens of millions of athletes around the world who depend on it not just to track their progress, but help them stay safe doing it.

Challenge

Beacon is one of Strava’s more recent features and lets Strava athletes send a text message to up to three safety contacts letting them know about their run or ride. The message includes a link to a live GPS-tracked map so their contact can track their progress. Beacon acts like a safety net for athletes and their contacts. Friends and family can check and make sure you’re still okay, athletes can feel better about taking longer rides or runs because they know someone has an eye on them if they get into trouble.

For Strava athletes who carry their phone with them on a run or ride, Beacon is easy. Their phone’s native messaging and GPS functions work with the Strava app to send out messages and locations. But what about the growing number of people who use a device like a Garmin watch or bike computer linked to Strava? How do you send a text message from a device not designed to send text messages? With over 40% of members using fitness devices like watches or ride computers, Strava knew they had a growing segment of athletes they needed to support.

Also, Strava needed to make sure that Beacon worked for Strava athletes around the world. Strava is a global community so for Beacon to be successful, it needed to work with as many Strava athletes as possible.

Solution

Strava is very popular at Infobip and when one Account Executive (and Strava user) saw Beacon for the first time, he knew we could help them. Looking at Beacon and the challenge there were four things that needed to be covered for a complete solution:

  • Connect wearable devices and ride computers on cycles to Strava to send the SMS to an athlete’s emergency contacts
  • Make sure that the SMS could be sent to and from anywhere in the world
  • Make sure that the SMS came from the same phone number every time so family members could recognize it as a Beacon SMS and not SMS spam
  • Be able to consolidate with one company for the solution to simplify development time and resources

Strava’s developers worked with Infobip’s solutions team to integrate our omnichannel communications API into the app so that once athletes set their three contacts, all they had to do was press start on their fitness device. The app and Infobip’s API took care of the rest. With SMS coverage in over 190 countries around the world, someone could go for a jog around New York’s Central Park or retrace the first marathon in Greece or run the Great Wall of China and that Beacon SMS would still get to their contacts.

Result

With SMS coverage in over 190 countries around the world, someone could go for a jog around New York’s Central Park or retrace the first marathon in Greece or run the Great Wall of China and that Beacon SMS would still get to their contacts.

One of the challenges that Strava had initially was when these messages were sent via the wearable device using other providers, the message came from a range of different phone numbers. This meant that emergency contacts would receive a message from an unknown number and possibly ignore it. Using intelligent number pooling built into the Infobip omni channel communications API, each user sends the messages from the same number every time. This lets contacts save that number into their address book as something like “Derrick Strava Beacon” so when Beacon messages arrive, family and friends immediately know what it is.

Now fully implemented and sending tens of thousands of messages a day, Strava and Infobip are helping people enjoy riding and running, while ensuring friends and family know where they are and that they are safe.

It has been fantastic working with Infobip on this project. Not only has the technology been easy to implement, the people at Infobip use Strava. They understand how important Beacon is to our athletes. That extra connection to us and our product really came through in everything the Infobip team did with us.

ETHAN HOLLINSHEADSenior Product Manager, Strava