28 Nov Traffic data firm navigates international business
Madison, Wis. – TrafficCast International, a Madison company that predicts highway drive times as accidents occur, and generates rerouting instructions for digital navigation services, is gaining international credibility with consumers and investors.
Part of the reason is that it has cut its technological teeth on some of the most knotty road systems in the world, starting with those of Shanghai, China – population 18.7 million.
Shanghai’s multi-level freeways and crowded arterials have posed a challenge to traffic engineers at TrafficCast, but by proving its analytical tools in China’s largest industrial city, the company has attracted the attention of buyers like Verizon, Cingular, the American Automobile Association, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I’ve traveled to a lot of places, but still Shanghai has the worst traffic congestion,” said Connie Li, TrafficCast’s co-founder, president, and CEO. “It has the most complicated road networks and the most complicated traffic patterns.”
Upon collecting data from over 350 data sources, including transportation departments, live incident reports, construction information, global positioning systems, and historic weather patterns, TrafficCast applies proprietary algorithms to develop predictive traffic flow models.
The resulting digital databases now cover 450,000 miles of roadway in the United States and parts of China. These, in turn, are sold as licensed services to Yahoo and Google.
More traffic, more business
At a recent meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network, Li noted that with the growth of world populations, roadways everywhere will inevitably become more choked than they already are. That means almost guaranteed demand.
“We believe the traffic information market is huge,” Li said, noting that the current market is worth approximately $600 million. Driven by the emerging demand for mobile navigation systems, the traffic information market could grow to an estimated $2.4 billion by 2010.
TrafficCast will use a $250,000 investment from Phenomenelle Angels Fund, established earlier this year to help support women-run companies, to develop its new probe system. The technology has been deployed in Shanghai to track and aggregate the 10 million cellular phone signals of China Mobile Communications consumers as they move from tower to tower along major highways.
These funds, coupled with Wisconsin Act 255 tax credits, also will enable TrafficCast to expand its intellectual property portfolio from its existing two patents to an estimated three next month, and another seven to ten next year.
Nick Kiernan, VP of new business development for TrafficCast, said the money also will support product development and enhance marketing efforts, especially in mobile, navigation, and interactive media markets.
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