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article imageQ&A: Geotab launches accelerator program, Torque Labs Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 13, 2019 in Business
Geotab develop IoT and connected transportation solutions. Geotab has announced the launch of its smart cities and transportation accelerator program, Torque Labs. Alexander Townsend explains more.
According to the University of Glasgow there are over 5,550 worldwide smart cities, each with 100,000 inhabitants or more. With smart cities continuously growing, the importance of data collection becomes more and more significant. Telematics and big data are essential to the smart city ecosystem by creating socio-economic benefits via efficient routing, safer roads, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and a more efficient supply chain. Traffic congestion, carbon measurement, fuel usage and other metrics lead to better transportation solutions for urban sustainability.
Geotab's Torque Labs is designed to provide early-stage companies with funding and access to Geotab’s world-class resources, Torque Labs strives to accelerate the IoT industry with new and expandable technology. Torque Labs has accepted three companies for it’s 6-month cohort: Predictive Coach , behavior based automotive training company; IRIS R&D - AI road monitoring company and AssetFlo, with Accurate IoT Positioning.
To discover more, Digital Journal caught up with Alexander Townsend, Corporate Development Analyst at Geotab.
Digital Journal: What is a smart city?
Alexander Townsend: A smart city uses data and analytics to identify and ultimately drive downstream improvements in health and safety, mobility, efficiency, environmental sustainability and more - all in an effort to improve the quality of life of its constituents.
DJ: How many smart cities are there, and which are the leading ones?
Townsend: There is no official list of smart cities, mostly due to the fact that a "smart city" is a journey and not a destination. Cities get smarter by investing in new policies and technologies that improve the quality of life of its citizens, but there is no threshold for when one officially becomes "smart". In North America, cities like Columbus, New York, San Diego, Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa are all investing heavily in this space, but there are thousands of other local governments that are equally, and in many cases farther along, on their smart city journey. The same is true globally, where Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Barcelona, and many others are receiving the spotlight.
DJ: How important is telematics and big data to the smart city ecosystem?
Townsend: The starting point to any smart city journey is rich data and analytics. The resulting insights are necessary to determine where investments in technology and policy reform can transform citizen’s lives. In addition, these insights are a valuable metric for monitoring and managing ongoing smart city programs. With this in mind, there are very few sources for mobile data capture, specifically with respect to the transportation network. This is where telematics can play a critical role. By aggregating connected vehicle data across millions of vehicles on our road network, city stakeholders can determine the efficiency of our transportation system, assess traffic signal coordination, identify dangerous road segments and intersections, quantify traffic related environmental impacts and much more.
DJ: What is the idea behind Torque Labs?
Townsend: Torque Labs was created to support early stage companies that are developing technologies which can leverage the Geotab platform. By providing these entrepreneurs with access to funding, mentorship and internal Geotab resources we look to help them achieve meaningful milestones and to integrate their technologies into the Geotab ecosystem.
This program will allow Geotab to explore new products and ideas that can provide value to our customers and partners.
DJ: Looking at the three companies in your accelerator program, what does Predictive Coach do?
Townsend: Based on the driver behavior that is tracked and documented through the Geotab telematics platform (i.e. harsh braking, speeding, hard acceleration, harsh cornering, swerving, seatbelt usage), Predictive Coach automatically assigns relevant training lessons to the driver. Training lessons may be taken on any laptop, tablet or mobile device and drivers receive certificates for their completed lessons in a fun, gamified learning environment.
DJ: What is IRIS R&D working on?
Townsend: IRIS has developed a dash cam that uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to detect road and public infrastructure deficiencies that help cities prioritize work and cut maintenance patrol costs.
In order for cities to collect, store, analyze and use data collected from cameras, any personally identifying data must be removed or "anonymized" immediately at the collection point - for example, faces, plate numbers and other personal identifiable data. IRIS has developed an innovative privacy de-identification algorithm that runs on the capture device (at the edge) before the data is transferred over the network.
DJ: How about AssetFlo?
Townsend: AssetFlo combines wireless sensors with accurate location technology to make the tracking of assets accurate and simple. They are targeting the material handling, warehouse and logistics industries to solve the problems of misplaced inventory, visibility and traceability of the health of assets (damage due to impact, dropping, high temperature, etc.) throughout its entire journey.
DJ: How will these three companies benefit from Geotab resources?
Townsend: The participants of the Torque Labs program will have access to a wide variety of resources. Funding, mentorship, meetings with business and technology leads within Geotab, access to Geotab data sets and introductions to Geotab customers and partners. These resources will help to greatly accelerate the commercialization of participants’ technologies while also ensuring they have a scalable business model and a repeatable sales strategy.
More about geotab, Accelerator, Startup, smart city
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