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Introducing Miovision Labs

This week, we launched Miovision Labs. It is our goal for Labs to be the place where the future of smart city innovation is conceived, researched and eventually brought to market. It’s made up of technologists and product strategists focused on the future of traffic technology for the smart city.

So why now? A couple of reasons.

First, cities are feeling enormous pressure from traffic congestion and infrastructure strain. They struggle with moving people and goods around their urban centers. That pressure will only intensify in the decades ahead: The United Nations projects that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Cities will have no choice but to advance the way they manage their transportation infrastructure with social, economic and environmental considerations in mind.

The second driver behind Miovision Labs relates to the tremendous growth we’ve experienced as a company. Miovision has now reached a size and scale that makes internal research and development (R&D) a massive reinvestment area for the company. Despite this effort, there is a need for a more open, collaborative approach to smart city R&D, combining the best technologists across many organizations. As the ‘open’ movement sweeps across almost every aspect of modern computing, we believe the same is true in smart city innovation.

Miovision Labs epitomizes this more open approach to innovation, an approach that scales beyond the traditional limitations of proprietary R&D. These limitations were first brought to my attention when I read Clayton Christensen’s seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma.  Christensen’s thesis—that disruptive technologies from upstart companies ultimately lead incumbents to fail—is rooted in a fundamental organizational reality: Disruption from within is extremely difficult. What led companies to succeed in the first place—their core tech, how they deliver it to customers—is what the organization is built to sustain. Any truly disruptive innovation from within is reasonably suppressed in the name of fiduciary responsibility.

So with Miovision Labs, our technologists will be free to disrupt away. Break existing models. And forge new pathways to innovation. In doing so, this team will help cities make sense of the vast amounts of data that will become available in the coming years and use this data to fuel smart city applications in traffic and beyond.

The Path to Miovision Labs

Miovision was launched 11 years ago to solve the urban transportation problem. Back then—and much of this is still true today—cities struggled to access data needed to improve transportation and traffic in cities. Data was difficult to unlock from older infrastructure. Legacy data collection methods were expensive, inaccurate, and lacked the detail engineers needed to properly plan and operate roadways. Since our launch, we have helped over 13,000 municipalities connect, monitor, and study their traffic infrastructure to make roadways safer and more efficient.

In the next 10 years, the problem will shift for many cities from accessing the data to interpreting and applying it. Cities will have almost unlimited access to data that details how their infrastructure is performing and how their citizens are using roadways. The challenge of future traffic teams will be to understand and put this data to use in their cities.

Miovision Labs’ mission is to lay the groundwork for a next generation of traffic technology, with the goal of ensuring that rapidly escalating volumes of data remain an asset for a smart city, and don’t become an unwieldy liability. Reaching this state requires specialized skills and IP including computer vision, deep learning, big data analytics and embedded device design—skills that Miovision Labs brings to the table.

We’re Hitting the Ground Running

Out of the gate, Miovision Labs already has key partnerships in place. Our initial work will focus on the following transportation projects in collaboration with academic researchers and non-government organizations (NGOs):

  1. Freight flow in cities. In partnership with freight specialist firm CPCS, Miovison Labs will study how traffic data from passive sensors, video cameras, GPS, and other sources can be used to understand and improve how freight moves through cities. The findings will inform planners and policymakers in the public sector about how to better collaborate with private firms in the collection and use of new data types for streamlining urban freight flows. The project is sponsored by the U.S. Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP 49).
  2. Road incident prevention. In partnership with the University of Toronto, Miovision Labs is pioneering computer vision (CV) for use in Conflict Analysis. This discipline has historically required human observation to detect and rank the severity of road incidents, a labor-intensive luxury most cities can’t afford. Post-accident analysis is much more common. This study is using real-world historical data, rather than simulations, to identify high-risk intersections to help resolve issues and guide safer infrastructure decisions in the future.
  3. Open traffic data. Miovision Labs is working with the World Bank-led Open Transport Partnership to encourage more open, two-way data sharing between companies and transportation agencies. Access to private sector innovation will help resource-constrained agencies develop evidence-based solutions to traffic and road safety challenges. Miovision will share traffic data, as it is made open by its customers, to support this work.

The research being conducted through these partnerships represent important steps toward smart cities. They combine new data sources and new analytical techniques that will eventually become core pieces of city operations and planning.

Some companies talk about a top-down approach to smart cities. But that has never worked for a variety of reasons, the main one being exorbitant costs. Getting to the future won’t happen overnight, and these types of projects are critical to that progress. In our view, Miovision Labs is critical to that progress.

smart city IoT

Big IoT. Big IT Challenges for Cities.

Until recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) for cities was a lot of hype. As recently as 2015, Gartner listed IoT at the top of the hype curve. Real results were hard to come by, and cities were struggling to understand how IoT fit into their plans.

Gartner Hype Curve

The 2015 Gartner Hype Curve

IoT is Here

But IoT has now shifted from hype to reality. Nowhere is this  more clear than in cities. The rise of autonomous vehicles means cities need to implement V2I technology to ensure safety.

Sensor proliferation is taking off. Chicago is deploying hundreds of sensors with it’s Array of Things initiative. It doesn’t stop there. This year Chattanooga, Atlanta, Seattle and Bristol and Newcastle in the United Kingdom will begin installing identical sensors in their cities. Next year, Boston, Austin, Delhi and Singapore will be building their own arrays. And late last year, DOT announced up to $40 million to a mid-size city with the best blueprint depicting a fully integrated forward-looking urban transportation network.


Chicago’s “Array of Things” Monitors the Pulse… by Mashable

Big IT Challenges

While all of these IoT devices will provide valuable information, they’ll also present major security and data management challenges. Internal IT departments will be stretched to  store, manage and analyze this data. Cities will need to manage thousands of data points and store millions of gigabytes of data. IT demands could skyrocket in a short period of time.

But big data requirements don’t mean big problems. Cities can overcome these challenges in a few ways.

#1: Consider Managed Services

If the CIA trusts the cloud, your city can too. Consider partnering with an IoT vendor that will provide managed services. At Miovision, we employ smart engineers and data scientists but we outsource some of our data storage functions to Amazon Web Services . They can do it better. Your traffic operations department is built around traffic engineering skills, not IT skills. Focus on what you do well and leave the rest to the experts.

So, how do you vet an IoT vendor? Here are few quick ways to get a read on whether you should consider a partnership:

  1. They Are Experts in IoT Solutions for Cities: Vendors with a focus on solutions for cities will understand your unique needs. Cities are different than companies. You require a specialized offering.
  2. They Have a Demonstrated Ability to Evolve With Your Needs: Your solution should evolve with your city. Partner with a vendor that has demonstrated a capacity to innovate on a regular basis. Chances are you’ll start with a particular need, but as you build your IoT platform, you’ll want more.
  3. They Take Security Seriously: Security should be a top priority. Your vendor should have clear documentation on security protocol, secure backups and disaster recovery. Furthermore, a reputable cloud partner should provide a detailed security response process.
  4. They Do More Than Store Data. They Can Provide Actionable Intelligence: You might not need data analysis right away, but as you collect and store data, you’ll want a vendor with a solution that can provide actionable intelligence for your city.

#2 Start with Small Pilot Projects

No need to dive into a full IoT implementation. Start with a small pilot project. It will allow you to slowly develop your IT infrastructure, whether it be externally or internally.

Don’t Avoid the Future

Cities are changing, and the Internet of Things is here to stay. Tackle the future head on. Start talking IT requirements. Start planning small pilot projects. Take the MyCitySmarts survey to help assess and plan the path forward. It will make your transition to a smart city that much easier.

Bikeable cities

The Changemakers Guide to Walkable & Bikeable Cities

 

“If you can change the street, you can change the world.” Janette Sadik Khan

At Miovision, our mission is to use technology to improve the transportation experience for everyone. Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work putting together the Changemaker’s Guide to Walkable and Bikeable Cities. Why? Because we want to empower transportation professionals to transform their streets. This guide will act as a fully-stocked toolkit for transportation professionals and government officials looking to build bike-friendly and walkable cities.

It’s Time to Rethink Cities

For too long cities have prioritized cars over people. More roads, more traffic, and lower levels of health are all symptoms of the broken city. Transportation engineers are forced to use outdated metrics. Public planners are handcuffed by layers of red tape and analysis for pedestrian-friendly projects.

The change needed is already on its way. Cities across North America are recognizing that citizens of walkable and bikeable cities are healthier, wealthier and happier. We’re experiencing it first hand at Miovision, with our technology already being used for major bike lane projects.

A Call to Changemakers

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking to challenge the status quo too. Our Changemaker’s Guide will help you get there. It’s a one-stop reference point that we update regularly, packed with information including:

  1. Benefits of Walkable and Bikeable Cities
  2. Strategies to Influencing Change
  3. Planning Resources
  4. Data Collection Strategies
  5. Implementation Tips
  6. Success Stories

Get Started. Get Involved.

This movement is more than just a guide. It’s about working together to make change happen. Here are a few other ways to get started:

  1. Download our Changemaker’s Toolkit, a collection of resources and tidbits from our guide consolidated into a single PDF.
  2. Share your story and inspire others. If you’ve made your town or city more walkable or bikeable, let us know! We’ll spotlight you in our guide.

Miovision hopes this guide will support you on your journey to make a better city or town. Don’t simply be a passenger in the journey towards sustainable transportation models, make yourself a driver of change.

Help Miovision make transportation better for everyone.

Miovision Attends Gulf Traffic in the UAE

Miovision attended the Gulf Traffic Exhibition and Conference at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre November 19-21, 2012.

Over the three days, transportation professionals were able to engage with exhibitors, including Miovision and network with each other while discussing current transportation topics.

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Women in Transportation

Miovision attended the ITS Vienna Conference in late October which is a global conference for the ITS community to discuss the latest trends and policies in Intelligent Transport Systems.

At the conference there was an exhibit showcasing famous women in transportation and mobility.

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Utah DOT Celebrates 100th Anniversary of the Traffic Signal

A replica of the first electric traffic signal unveiled by UDOT Executive Director, John Njord.

On October 4, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the modern, electric traffic signal. It was invented by Lester Wire, a Salt Lake City police officer, back in 1912. He was looking for a way to control busy intersections as congestion was growing and could potentially be a safety issue.

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Traffic Congestion: 180 km Traffic Jams in Sao Paulo

We previously covered traffic congestion across the United States, in Europe and in China. Residents of these areas have experienced the joy of traffic congestion that stretches many kilometers and increases their daily commute time substantially. Sao Paulo in Brazil is no exception.

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Outsourcing Traffic Data Collection

Outsourcing Traffic Data Collection Research InitiativeIn July, we contacted engineering firms across Canada and the US to take part in Miovision’s second research initiative. It would focus on engineering firms who outsource some or all of their traffic data collection to vendors.

We targeted engineering firms, as many of these firms complete large transportation projects, where data collection is only a fraction of the project.

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Investing in Walking and Bicycling Infrastructure

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently released the results from their pilot project which increased investments in non-motorized transportation. From 2007 to 2010, the FHWA provided funding to four pilot communities within the U.S. in order to evaluate the effectiveness of investing Federal funds in non-motorized transportation. Each community was to focus its resources on increasing walking and bicycling and then examine the impacts over this four year period.

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Europe’s Most Congested Cities

In the last blog article, we reviewed North America’s Most Congested Cities. Although Canada and the US are one of the largest countries in the world, Europe has a larger population and population density. North America has a population of approximately 529 million and population density around 32 people per km. Europe is less than half the size and has a population of about 738 million and population density of approximately 72.5 people per km.

Countries across Europe have a longer history and established infrastructure earlier on. European congestion is ranked at 24%, which is 4% higher than in North America.

In this week’s blog article, we will be reviewing the most congested European cities according to GPS manufacturer, TomTom.

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