Kitchener’s Miovision is using technology to ease one of life’s most predictably frustrating problems: traffic.
The Canadian Digital Media Network handed out its inaugural Moonshot Awards last week during the Canada 3.0 Conference in Toronto, with Company of the Year handed out to Waterloo education juggernaut Desire2Learn.
Innovator of the Year was presented to Miovision. The winners were selected from 15 nominees and selected by a panel of judges.
Miovision’s product, Spectrum, which the company describes as an adaptive signal control, models data to automatically adjust traffic signals to optimize vehicle flow and reduce congestion. With companies like IBM getting into the Big Data traffic control market in Dublin, Boston and Ivory Coast, not to mention the City of Los Angeles unveiling its Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System, and various other US companies such as Waze and Uber Technologies working with state and municipal governments, traffic looks to be one of the first major aspects of life to be shaped by intelligent use of Big Data.
As startups go, Miovision is already seasoned. The company was the first client at Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre when it opened in 2006. Searching for a “light at the end of the tunnel” during his master’s degree, company founder and CEO Kurtis McBride came across a book called “Crossing the Chasm”. The upshot of the book, he said, was “when you’re small, attack small things; don’t attack big things because someone who’s big will already be there and stop you.” Little did McBride know that the light he was looking for was a traffic light.
The choices for measuring traffic at that time consisted of three areas: security (which was already being dominated by newly formed companies), retail (already a billion-dollar market), and traffic (which hardly anyone was monitoring). McBride recalls, “So having read this book, it was like the textbook was saying, ‘Go after traffic; it’s small and you’re small; you can attack it.’” So he started counting cars.
Now with 75 employees, Miovision is operating in 25 countries, on every continent other than Antarctica, and has an office in Cologne, Germany. Year on year, for the past four years, the company’s revenue has grown by 65%.