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Conduent, Hayden AI Team Up to Automate Bus Lane Enforcement

One is a giant, publicly-traded company. The other is a two-year-old startup. Together, they're putting out a solution that seeks to help local government speed up bus systems by keeping dedicated lanes clear.

two city buses with a motion blur effect
Conduent, a huge global company with diverse technology offerings, is teaming up with the small new startup Hayden AI* to put out a new solution to help local government keep bus lanes clear.

While the duo’s ambitions extend further, they’re starting by combining existing functionality. The solution will use Hayden’s technology — cameras mounted on buses, plus software to analyze that video — with Conduent’s systems for curb management, including the ability to issue citations.

The idea behind the technology is simple: If bus lanes are kept clear, buses will move faster, and riders will return.

“Where we have dedicated bus lanes … when they’re clogged with illegally-parked vehicles, the buses don’t move,” said Stuart McKee, chief operating officer of Hayden AI, in a recent virtual event. “And if buses don’t move, people don’t ride it. We’ve seen some really interesting outcomes in pilot projects that have been conducted in a number of places where it turns out when you improve the flow of buses, more people will ride the bus.”

Automation, McKee argued during the event, can offer benefits in enforcement by expanding it.

“Removing human bias is really important, but even more important is removing location and time bias,” he said. “The reality is our cities can only deploy people in so many places, and people are still super important, but one of the things we can do with this technology is by deploying it in a transit system or in a set of vehicles within a city … you’re able to actually cover a much larger area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Many experts in ethics and technology argue that human bias can be, and often is, baked into automated enforcement. When it is, that bias can be amplified and hastened.

Bus lane enforcement is just a beginning focus of the partnership between the two companies. Holly Cooper, general manager of public safety and curbside management solutions for Conduent Transportation, pointed out that her company also offers technology for curb management solutions such as virtual parking permits — which can help organizations such as delivery companies who might or might not view parking tickets as a baked-in cost of doing business.

“You can do things like lease curb space,” Cooper said during the event. “You can use curb space most efficiently and send, using a back-end processing system like we have, you can send notifications to, say, UPS. They don’t have to manage their fleet one parking ticket and citation at a time — ‘Oh, they stayed longer in their loading zone than what they needed to.’”

Then there’s the possibility of expanding outside buses. Video analytics are flexible; they don’t necessarily need to come from a particular type of camera, so Hayden and Conduent’s technology could be applied to cameras mounted on other municipal vehicles or stationary cameras such as those mounted in intersections to catch drivers blasting through red lights.

They could also be used for more than bus lanes.

“You have water vehicles from the department of public works that (go) out and (do) meter measurements and things — why couldn’t they have this technology on that vehicle?” Cooper said. “Why couldn’t they be collecting the parking behaviors, or the behaviors of, say, motorcycles, or restaurant parking, or pedestrian crossing?”

Hayden is a young company, having been launched in 2019, but its first couple of years have been attention-grabbing: its leadership includes McKee, who is a former CIO for the state of Washington and CTO for Microsoft, as well as former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

*An arm of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company, has invested in Hayden AI.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.