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Kitchener’s Miovision Raises $30 Million To Apply Big Data to Traffic Woes

miovisionKitchener-based traffic systems technology company Miovision has completed a $30 million Series B financing round, led by MacKinnon, Bennett & Co., with assists from Investeco Capital, Renewal Funds, Plaza Ventures and Comerica.

When we last checked in on Miovision, the company had just been presented with the Innovator of the Year Award by the Canadian Digital Media Network, after recording 65% year-on-year growth and making its presence felt in 25 countries while working with traffic authorities and various levels of government around the world.

Contacted via email by Cantech Letter, CEO Kurtis McBride confirms Miovision’s expansion since then. “We already work with about 500 organizations and government agencies in 50 countries, so we have an international presence. While we do plan to continue adding more cities to our roster, the more significant point is that this funding will help us expand what we do for them.”

Gartner Communications forecasts the global transit IT infrastructure to grow to $151 billion by 2018.

With all the talk about “smart cities” heating up, there seems to be an appetite for Miovision to expand. We asked Kurtis McBride to comment on what the future holds for Miovision and for the potential for Big Data to transform how traffic works in cities.

There has been a lot of hype around the idea of “smart cities”. Have you seen much convergence between the rhetoric and what actually goes on at city hall? In Montreal and Toronto, we’ve seen the implementation of “traffic calming measures”. Are these based on data, or more on design theory?

Those examples are more along the lines of design changes such as roundabouts, which certainly can be effective to a degree. The problem is design implementations are based on average traffic data. They don’t account for how traffic patterns under unpredictable conditions – an accident, bad weather, a nearby event, a land-use change. Signals get re-timed every 3-5 years, and an area can change a lot in that time so there is a high likelihood the signals are seldom optimally timed. To properly adapt to these changes, city infrastructure needs to be connected so it can deliver real-time data to its operators. Often budget and incumbent technology limit this ability.

What will the money allow Miovision to do?

Our business to this point has been focused on working with municipalities, transportation departments and engineering firms on traffic counting studies. Now we’ll be expanding to focus on modernizing intersections. In a world where refrigerators and thermostats are increasingly connected to the Internet, many traffic signals aren’t connected to any network. Those that are connected use either outdated technology from the 1970s or outrageously expensive fiber-optic cable. With the new $30 million investment, Miovision will expand the deployment of its easily installed and much more cost-effective cellular antennas to feed traffic data to the cloud where it can be controlled in real time using a web browser.

There are a number of engineering companies and systems integrators that have dominated the world of traffic signal technology to date, but there hasn’t been much innovation. If you open one of those gray boxes at the intersection, it looks about the same as it did in the 1980s. There really isn’t really anyone who is taking the approach we are that capitalizes on modern technology to connect the signals for real-time management and lay the groundwork for smart cities.

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