Dear Citizen

You are likely reading this blog because your community leaders installed GRIDSMART® intelligent traffic technology in your neighborhood. My name is Bill Malkes, and since I am a GRIDSMART co-founder, it is fair to say my views have traces of partiality in them.  That does not, however, mean what I say is wrong.

Your leaders made a wise decision, both for you and for your community’s traffic funds. Let me walk back and explain, starting with the benefits you’ll enjoy from this unique looking bell shaped camera living above your streets:

    1. GRIDSMART saves your community money.
      1. It costs less to install than other traffic products.
      2. It is significantly less costly to maintain.
      3. It costs only 30 minutes to learn.
    1. GRIDSMART has safety features other products do not.
      1. It is the only traffic solution that sees the center of the intersection where the action takes place.
      2. It is the only solution delivering important traffic data without guessing.
    1. GRIDSMART protects privacy. While it can see your vehicles, it cannot see you or read your license plate.

Money:  Your community uses something called detection to determine when traffic lights should be green or red.  Detection alerts the traffic system when vehicles are ready to go through the intersection. Until the 1990s, detection was a piece of metal, called a loop, that was cut into the pavement.  Loops do work, but they require cutting 8, 10, 12 or more loops at every intersection to get the job done.  Loops are also cut to count vehicles on our freeways.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), loops break on average of 25% every year.  Fixing loops costs money, but not fixing them makes for dangerous roads.  And when the traffic system cannot detect your presence, it takes a long time to get a green light. When this happens, some will run the red light.

Quite frankly, loops are a pain. Just think about blocking lanes, cutting up the road and replacing the loops several times each year. Now imagine doing this at every single intersection or stretch of highway.

In the 1990s, traffic cameras became an above ground alternative to loops.  The difficulty is that communities have to install four or more cameras, with two wires per camera, at each intersection.  Each camera is aimed at traffic. Each camera lens has to be focused. And each camera has to be cleaned two or more times each year.

GRIDSMART requires only one wire to connect a single bell shaped camera, and the camera never needs to be aimed or focused. With its unique fisheye lens, the GRIDSMART camera can see horizon to horizon, including the area directly beneath it. We recommended cleaning the GRIDSMART lens once a year.

The eight or more wires required by most camera products must be threaded through underground tubes beneath your roads.  Compare this to a single wire for GRIDSMART.  Imagine threading a wire through a 10 year old pipe underneath 5,7 or more lanes.  Now imagine repeating the process a dozen or more times!  City engineers close traffic lanes to clean camera lenses. Multiply that times the number of cameras at the intersection and, well, you get the picture.

Think about the time and money saved by installing GRIDSMART compared to the other products. Think about the time and money saved by cleaning one lens once a year, compared to four or more times per year.   Think about the time and money saved by not having to aim or focus multiple cameras.

Your traffic department has a lot to do and lot to think about, which is why we designed GRIDSMART to be learned in 30 minutes or less.  At GRIDSMART, we believe the system should work for you, not the other way around.

GRIDSMART lets your traffic professionals use their smarts to help you get around safely and more efficiently – not babysit other products.  GRIDSMART will even send them an email if for some reason it cannot see one of the lanes – after invoking safety protocols, of course.

Safety: By definition, an intersection is a place where roads cross.  Loops, even when they work,  cannot see anything because they are 6” below the pavement.  Other traffic cameras may be good enough to see approaching traffic, but they fail to see where that traffic is going, and they certainly do not see where vehicles cross paths.

GRIDSMART empowers your city with the technology to see where the activity is.  It provides the ability to see what may be causing accidents.  It is the only system to accurately measure U-Turns and helps to understand why people need to make U-Turns when they do.  It can see people or bikes in the intersection when the lights change to red, which can be very dangerous.  GRIDSMART helps your traffic professionals make the roads safer for you.

Traffic counts are very important to your community.  FHA studies recommend that counts should be collected every six months.  The same studies show that, on average in the real world, count studies are only taken every seven years. More often than not, these count studies are only based on a few days’ worth of traffic and then extrapolated for a very long time.  Would June the 17th look like every other day on your roads?

Why are counts important? Because they provide information used by your traffic professionals to make the timing of lights safer and more efficient.  Traffic counts also give your community leaders the data they need to submit proposals and win federal funding.  Accurate traffic counts give your community the ability to plan for growth and safety.

Many traffic departments depend on a number of inferior methods to collect counts: human counts, pressure hoses stretched across the road, cameras that guess where you are going based on where they first see you (remember, other cameras can only see things heading towards them), and even temporary cameras put up for a single day.  GRIDSMART communities have accurate minute-by-minute counts every day of every year, and counts are proactively emailed to smart traffic professionals in your community.

GRIDSMART makes it easy for your traffic professionals to have all the information they need to put their expertise to work for you.

Privacy:  We are all concerned about balancing privacy with safety in today’s world.  GRIDSMART cameras do not read license plates; they couldn’t even if we wanted them too.  Our unique ability to see horizon to horizon makes it impossible to focus on license plate numbers. GRIDSMART can not see inside your vehicle.  Once again, the magic of the fisheye lens lets the camera see the entire intersection, including the center of the intersection, but it cannot see your face.

GRIDSMART does see accidents and other incidents that happen 360° around the camera. However, it sees just enough to show that something is wrong, but not enough to show your face (when you’re just hanging out and don’t think it is anyone’s business to know where you are).  GRIDSMART moves and counts traffic efficiently and safely. It makes you safer, but it is not a law enforcement tool.

So that’s a little bit about why GRIDSMART is a wise choice for your community – the end that I promised to start with.  Now, a nibble about the start of GRIDSMART and how we exemplify our pillars of Simplicity, Flexibility and Transparency in everything we do.

The Start:  GRIDSMART co-founder James Sherrill and I were sick and tired of waiting at red lights for no reason.  There had to be a better way, so we started thinking.

We were in Knoxville, Tennessee (we still are today). Five miles to our north is the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where some of the smartest people in the world work.  Twenty miles in all other directions house some of the most economically challenged rural areas in our country.  We not only wanted to create a product that would “wow” an Oak Ridge scientist. We wanted to create something accessible to everyone. We believe that technology is never truly great unless everyone has access to it.

So everything we build is designed for simplicity.  Every day, your traffic professionals have a lot on their plate, and this tool called GRIDSMART should work for them.

GRIDSMART has to be flexible.  Other companies in our industry lock communities down with proprietary standards.  We would rather you be happy with someone else’s product than be unhappy with ours.  GRIDSMART is built so that if we are not doing the job, you can still use GRIDSMART with other products without constraint.  You get GRIDSMART benefits without us.  We believe that’s the right way to do business.

Finally, we took note that everyone, in all areas of the traffic industry, makes accuracy claims.  Unfortunately, communities need to study these claims or hire someone to study them to see whether or not they are true.  GRIDSMART ships with free tools that let traffic professionals easily understand how we are doing; not in a university, not in some kingdom, far, far away, but in your hometown.

GRIDSMART publishes a software “change log” on the internet (you can see it) that announces our bug fixes for the world to see.  We don’t pretend problems don’t exist, because problems don’t get fixed that way.

GRIDSMART is built for the biggest and the smallest of communities.  We understand that everyone needs cost effective performance.  GRIDSMART solves real problems for real people.  GRIDSMART was born of citizen problems solvers, not big company revenue producers.

Take a look this video (it only takes 60 seconds), and I think you will understand even more of who we are and why I think your traffic professional’s selection of GRIDSMART is the wise choice for your funds.


GRIDSMART Applauds Introduction of Future Transportation Research and Innovation Act

Bill Malkes, Founder and CEO, of GRIDSMART Technologies, Inc. applauds U.S. Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) for the introduction of the Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (Future TRIP) Act. The Future TRIP Act would support innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter mobility in America and beyond.

“I commend Congressman Lipinski for his visionary leadership in understanding the importance of dedicating federal funding to support the research, development and deployment of intelligent transportation systems,” said Malkes. “Technology plays a vital role in the future of transportation. As traffic problems are severely impacting cities and communities, technology such as GRIDSMART can cost-effectively make intersections safer and more efficient through actuation and traffic monitoring, which in turn will save commuters time and money, improve on-time delivery for area businesses, and prevent crashes caused by stop-and-go traffic.”

The Future TRIP Act would:

  • Establish priorities for research and deployment of technologies for connected and autonomous vehicles that promise to make commutes safer and more efficient;
  • Improve transportation research at universities by removing burdensome restrictions on grant applicants and increasing the focus on multimodal research which universities are uniquely positioned to conduct;
  • Direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead a comprehensive cross-agency coordination effort on transportation research;
  • Invest in pavement research to reduce costs, increase performance, and increase the use of recycled materials;
  • Bolster technology transfer and innovation in transportation by removing restrictions on researcher travel and recognizing outstanding innovators;
  • Direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify gaps in current data collection, improve freight data, and provide important ethical safeguards for data collection, storage, and dissemination;
  • Instruct DOT to create a strategic research plan to improve efficiency and safety of freight transportation, and focus resources on top priorities;
  • Support research to test ground-based, satellite, and unmanned aerial systems’ (UAS) ability to help solve multimodal transportation challenges and improve safety;
  • Establish an Intelligent Transportation Systems Center of Excellence to improve sharing of best practices, training, and technical assistance for this challenging interdisciplinary field;
  • Provide considerations to improve future Strategic Research, Development, and Technology plans based on critiques from the National Academies, including communicating the value of the research and identifying potential and ongoing intermodal and interagency collaborations.

Congressman Lipinski spoke on the Future TRIP Act:

“Surface transportation used to be rather staid and unimaginative, but today the very concept of ‘mobility’ is being reinvented through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” said Rep. Lipinski. “Rapidly advancing automation, connectivity, and information technologies are creating incredible opportunities for transportation innovation. We need to develop innovative ways to improve safety, ease congestion, improve personal mobility, and cut energy use. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the Ranking Member on the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I am working to ensure that we are developing these technologies effectively in the United States.”

To learn more about the Future TRIP Act, click here.

Published on June 30, 2015 by .
Posted in ITS

What a Freak Believes

What a Freak Believes

We believe in video. We believe video – done right – is simple, flexible and transparent. We believe video is the safest, most efficient way to manage intersections and highways while owning valuable data. My name is Bill Malkes. I am a founder and CEO of GRIDSMART®. These beliefs and the ones that follow I know to be true.

GRIDSMART is built upon values of Simplicity, Flexibility and Transparency. We work every day delivering these values to you in our product, in our support, in the way we sell, and in the way we communicate with you. Our job is to make your job easy so you can move to the next important place your smarts are needed. We believe video is a vital tool. We believe technology is only truly great when accessible to all in all ways: cost, ease of use, simplicity of maintenance and the ability to bend to your needs. We believe.

We are citizens. We want communities with the best possible products, not products forced on them. Sometimes, non-GRIDSMART answers are better. When true, please use them. You should have the best products for the job AND still use GRIDSMART solutions where they work best (we think that is in >90% of installations). The key to life and traffic is realizing it is not locked. We believe.

We strive for GRIDSMART to play well with others, with its open API being one example. We deliver flexible solutions. We want you to access the best, so we never lock down that capacity. A virtual pan-tilt-zoom DVR lives in every GRIDSMART unit. You should see how your detection and data collection products work any time you like. Simply gained knowledge and flexibility empower great decisions.

It is 2015, and I cannot comprehend why we continue to put non-renewable resources – which are known to fail – in the ground. I can’t understand starting a game with the certain knowledge of looming failure. I empathize that many choose this path because, despite the many benefits, video historically has not fulfilled the promise of being easier. I am sorry for that – and that’s why GRIDSMART was born. The major video companies work hard to achieve that promise. Every major video company gets better each year, and they do outperform underground products.


I grasp that our friends in the video business are not fairly evaluated when compared to loops, pucks and other odd things buried in the ground. If loops are nearly 100% accurate but only function 75% of the time, they are really only a 75% solution.

Eye Crossed OutWe realize that “correctly installed” loops (such as when the concrete is initially poured) can be reliable over time. However, if this were the norm, no one would talk about a 25% failure rate. Consistent to standard or not, you cannot see the people and vehicles you’re protecting from below the pavement.

Because video offers understandable benefits, some video companies mix other technologies with their video to ease performance concerns. GRIDSMART does not. Two sharp knives, a screw and nut do not make better scissors. We play nicely with other technologies, but we don’t depend on them to do our job. Truly great solutions benefit the users, not the sellers. Great technology should be easy. We believe in video done right.

Some people advocate for cheap “throw way” cameras or low-cost loop installations to avoid making difficult decisions. What happens? Performance suffers and life-cycle costs increase. It is kicking the can down the road. It does not make a better tomorrow.

We believe in video done right.

We see people trying to improve traffic by mitigating detection woes with adaptive products that use inaccurate detection. This is Rip Off the Band-Aidnothing more than an expensive patch in the GRIDSMART way of thinking. You cannot understand the “why”, or plan for the “what-if”, without rich data.  Even when you do adjust flow with inference-based demand. This is a band-aid, not a strategy. Absent accurate long-term data, this is not a solution; it’s a workaround. Workarounds are neither simple nor flexible nor transparent.

We understand that through the years even GRIDSMART has triggered unplanned workarounds. This is why we invested over $1 million in 2014 to understand how real people, in real places around the world, use our products. We continue to invest more instead of moving on. Users sometimes work around things we did not consider. Our new GS2 processor aggressively attacks workarounds. We will never stop learning and attacking the need for workarounds. We believe in simple, flexible and transparent. We believe in looking in the mirror. We believe in video done right.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications are huge parts of the future. They are solution inputs, a means, not an end. These points plead for context. They demand simplicity. This technology deserves to be more than just automating something we already do. V2I data will change the world, but like all technology, it can only be great if it is accessible. We believe this is a data point and, like others, has a binding need for context. Users benefit from simple, flexible and transparent. We are freak-enough to believe that video is a non-negotiable part of this. We believe in video done right.

We are Traffic Control Freaks. This statement has multiple connotations. We control everything in our design and implementation to make it simple, flexible and transparent. We make hardware tough. We make it GRIDSMART tough. Our job is to make your job easier.

This is how you do more. This is how you maximize your smarts. This is how transportation gets better.

We believe in video done right. We are Traffic Control Freaks.

See it here:



Texas Highway Products Recognized by GRIDSMART

During the ITS America Annual Meeting, GRIDSMART recognized Texas Highway Products with the inaugural Secretary Mary E. Peters Award for Excellence.

Mary Peters served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 2006 – 2009. As U.S. Secretary of Transportation, she led efforts to substantially improve transportation safety, improve the performance of the nation’s transportation system and develop new policy and funding sources to support America’s transportation system into the 21st century.

Secretary Peters also served on the GRIDSMART Board of Directors from 2010-2014. During this time, Secretary Peters urged Congress to provide the funding needed to deploy transportation technologies and called on lawmakers to dedicate at least $1 billion a year in the surface re-authorization bill for congestion busting high-tech solutions to the nation’s traffic woes.

The Secretary Mary E. Peters Award for Excellence represents her vision and leadership. We honored Texas Highway Products in recognition of their commitment to GRIDSMART and helping make traffic management systems smarter, faster and easier in the state of Texas.

Texas Highway Products helped pioneer video in the state of Texas. For years, they were the consistent leader in sales for a competitor’s product line until they brought their industry experience and contact base to GRIDSMART.

“When Texas Highway Products started working with GRIDSMART, they learned that pursuing change can be difficult,” said Michael Harvard, Regional Sales Manager with GRIDSMART. “Through hard work, consistent marketing, and a desire to bring the most innovative products to Texas, Darold Cherry and his team prevailed. Texas Highway Products is testament to our own struggles and victories at GRIDSMART and shows that innovation, while often difficult, is always rewarding in the end.”

GRIDSMART was thrilled to present Darold Cherry, President and CEO of Texas Highways, with the inaugural Secretary Mary E. Peters Award for Excellence.




ITS America Annual Meeting

GRIDSMART® attended the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s 25th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. The Annual Meeting focused on showcasing the safety benefits that emerging technologies can bring to the commuting public. The event drew an estimated 2,000 transportation officials, high-tech leaders and researchers who gathered to witness the latest in cutting edge mobility.

During the show, GRIDSMART introduced the latest products in the GRIDSMART lineup that continue to enhance the company’s commitment to making traffic technology faster, smarter and easier. GRIDSMART also unveiled the company’s new branding, including a new website, logo, video and “Traffic Control Freaks.”





Regina Hopper, President and CEO of ITS America, had the opportunity to learn about GRIDSMART technology and also attended our VIP Dinner. The GRIDSMART team is very excited to work with Regina and believes she will lead the industry on a path of advocacy and outreach and further it significantly.


We also had the opportunity to introduce the GRIDSMART system to many new organizations and explain how we are able to use a single camera for actuation and data collection.




We also want to say a special thank you to Kef Kasdin, who serves on our Board of Directors, for attending the event.


For more information on the event, visit