Association Leaders Highlight Federal Technology Initiatives

Regina Hopper, CEO of The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) and Paul Brubaker, CEO of The Alliance for Transportation Innovation ( held a lively discussion today on federal transportation policy and innovation. The discussion, moderated by Bryan Saint focused on this critical moment in the evolution of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and the task of moving exciting innovations out of the labs and onto the roadways.

With more than 30,000 people killed annually on America’s roads (early statistics indicate that number could approach 40,000 in 2016), Hopper and Brubaker agreed these life-saving technologies have never been more critical. But major challenges to deployment remain including transition from the current fleet, cybersecurity and in the case of self-driving, job retraining for those who will be displaced.

Earlier this Fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy signaling government support for self-driving vehicles, but the road to full autonomy has many challenges. Brubaker, who formerly served as administrator of U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) stated that his group released a National Strategic Framework to advance self-driving vehicles just last week arguing that bringing these technologies to bear should be a critical goal of the incoming administration. Going one step further, he said only the office of the president has the ability to bring all government and private sector stakeholders together to accomplish this goal.

In spite of the challenges, Hopper and Brubaker remain optimistic about prospects for a connected transportation future and the role private industry and innovators will play in making it happen.

Leaders Explore Possibility of Knoxville Becoming a Self-Driving and Connected Vehicle Testbed

After delivering remarks to Intersect attendees, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero met with nationally recognized transportation leaders to discuss the viability of Knoxville, TN becoming a testbed for companies conducting research on connected and self-driving vehicles.

Among those in attendance were The Alliance for Transportation Innovation CEO Paul Brubaker, Utah Department of Transportation Director Carlos Braceras, Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randy Iwasaki, Intelligent Transportation Society of America CEO Regina Hopper and GRIDSMART CEO Bill Malkes.

Several cities including Ann Arbor, MI, Contra Costa, CA, and Tampa, FL have already established test beds on both public and private roads. Those test beds are creating new economic development in their regions. The discussion in the room noted that few if any can offer researchers all of the assets of Knoxville including a four-season climate, hills/flat land, city/rural environments and a nearby technology hub.

Mayor Rogero said before the meeting, “Connected and self-driving vehicles are on the cutting edge of transportation and with our existing high-tech industry and diverse geography, we may have a unique opportunity to build a new industry right here in Knoxville led by companies like GRIDSMART,” she said. “While this is just a discussion,” she continued that we’ve got “the right people in the room to consider the viability of this opportunity.”

All agreed that while there is great potential for a testbed and that more research is needed to determine what the next steps should be.

Thailand Develops Web Apps to Reap Rewards of GRIDSMART’s Open API

Traveling half-way around the world to share his insight into GRIDSMART’s Application Program Interface (API), Chalunvuth Nutayakul (JJ), managing director of New Trend Development, discussed his company’s work with the Kingdom of Thailand’s transportation system.

JJ spoke last year about his work with GRIDSMART at INTERSECT15, where he discussed congestion mitigation in Thailand, using the API to create real-time traffic gridlock maps and disseminating that information through local media.

Today, JJ showed attendees how he developed web apps using the GRIDSMART API to highlight major congestion areas while incorporating additional installations and data for a broader transportation snapshot.

“GRIDSMART data is limitless, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The use of these systems is only limited by our imagination and I’m so excited to be able to make traffic more efficient in my home country. GRIDSMART technology is truly making a difference.”

Intersect16 Brings Together Transportation Leaders from Around the World

Intesect16, the annual high-tech transportation summit, kicked off today at the world headquarters of GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. in Knoxville, TN. In its short history, the event has attracted world renowned transportation leaders to discuss technological innovations that will save time, money and lives, and this year is shaping up to be one of the most insightful events to date.

The event kicked off with a breakfast meeting hosted by the GRIDSMART Sales & Engineering team followed by remarks by co-founder and CEO Bill Malkes. Malkes said, “As a company and as a member of the greater intelligent transportation community, we are truly excited about what the future holds. We’re committed to improving the quality of life for people around the world by sticking to our philosophy of being Simple. Flexible. Transparent.

As the sessions progressed, GRIDSMART hit several key areas of progress for the company including the overall operating system, cloud computing features and mobile applications driving the next generation of traffic management.

Preston Garland, director of Web Services for GRIDSMART gave an overview of ATLAS, the web-based software platform that allows traffic departments to securely share imagery and intersection value information from GRIDSMART systems and IP cameras with outside partners. This revolutionary platform brings critical data that can be seen from anywhere and shared with anyone in the world.

“There’s tremendous value for emergency responders and engineering departments to be able to see intersections in real-time, and it’s not expensive,” Garland said. “It’s completely cloud-based and there’s no software to install. You add in map views, historical data and data visualization modules, as well as intersection video playback, and you’ve got one of the most powerful traffic monitoring platforms in the world.”

Jeff Price, Chief Technology Officer, discussed the massive volume of intersection performance data and huge numbers of vehicle turning movement counts that are collected by the GRIDSMART system 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Using the industry’s only open application program interface (API) to pull data, Price was able to paint an in-depth traffic picture for Knoxville, TN and Allentown, PA over 2 years of perpetually collected, minute by minute data, something impossible to do with traditional short-term count studies.

Price said, “Spot counts create blind spots of information that can be dangerous. Some of the most interesting and useable data from a traffic management and planning perspective came at times that you normally wouldn’t anticipate with traditional time-count methods.” He went on to say the intersection information collected by GRIDSMART equipment would have cost millions of dollars if conducted through temporary camera data collection.

“Our methods not only save millions of dollars by eliminating temporary counts, but you can capture information using the GRIDSMART API and open source software that no one will be able to collect with traditional methods. For us and our customers, it’s always about doing more and spending less.”

The GRIDSMART Love Language

Hey There,

My name is Bill Malkes, I am a founder at GRIDSMART. If we have not met, I am sorry for that, because I am thankful for everyone reading this. If you are reading this, I would guess you want to know more about GRIDSMART. We deliver advanced traffic solutions that anyone can use. More than that, we deliver respect for you, shown through what I guess you would call our love language, sweat.

GRIDSMART is made in the United States. Built strong by people who call East Tennessee home, no matter where we started. That means we say Sir and Ma’am, we talk a little slower and smile a little more. If you come to our office, you will get a firm handshake and be looked in the eye by a pair of friendly eyes who really mean it when they say “Glad y’all are here”. You will meet people who work here because they earn a living doing what they believe in, not people who are here just to get a pay check. You will meet people who really want to do a great job for you in everything they do. People who surely believe it when they say: Simple, Flexible, Transparent in all we do.  Come see us at INTERSECT16, you will feel it.

We could be like the other guys and make it cheaper somewhere else or even try and pass costs on to you. We just don’t want to. Fair dollar for a fair day and it cuts both ways-Customers and Team Members.

We like to think that starts where the company started. No one in Senior Management at GRIDSMART had college paid for them by someone being nice. One had an athletic scholarship, a guy who won a National Championship. Others had academic scholarships, including one who went to the Naval Academy and served our country; he only went to the Academy AFTER enlisting. Then, there are a lot whole who just worked hard and gave sweat to pay for our own education.

I have been called a “BlueTech Guy”. I admit it, I like it. I have pulled laundry shoots at inter-city hospitals, dug ditches in the country, put out fires and earned a lot of grime under my nails getting to where I could start GRIDSMART. That is who we are. We are the guys and gals who came from where you came from. We honestly care about what you do and about the people you do it for. We try to work extra hard to make at least a bit of your day easier. We want to be 15 minutes of shade for you on a hot day. That is why GRIDSMART will always be Simple. Flexible. Transparent.

That’s just me and that is all I know. A “Billism” around here to our vendors is “Earn my business with sweat, not sweet talk”.  I try to do the same for you.

Bill Malkes Signature