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Transit Tech Lab Selected Companies for Innovation Challenge

Ten transportation technology companies were selected for eight-week project deployments in the New York City metro region to explore artificial intelligence, sustainability and other technology areas to innovate transit.

New York City buses
DW labs Incorporated/Shutterstock
Technology to use video and other data to better understand transit facilities and infrastructure will move forward in the most transit-heavy market in the nation.

The Transit Tech Lab in New York City, a program of the Transit Innovation Partnership, has selected 10 companies to begin eight-week trial projects in the city’s transit ecosystem to explore technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and video data analysis to better understand the dynamic nature of transit and how to improve its efficiencies.

“Public agencies collect a significant amount of raw data. We see tremendous opportunity in helping public agencies synthesize and digest large data sets to improve service delivery, ensure safe environments and optimize customer experience,” said Natalia Quintero, senior vice-president of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City. “These proof of concepts will help us understand the benefits and limitations of emergent technologies as the tools are deployed.”

The companies were selected as part of the 2022 COVID-19 Recovery and Environmental Sustainability challenge, with five of them selected as part of the “Recovery” finalists, while the other five selected as the “Environmental Sustainability” finalists. The challenge was launched Jan. 31, 2022, and received entries from some 150 companies, said Quintero.

“A subset of companies were invited to conduct virtual pitch presentations and present at a product demo day. Ten companies were then selected by transit agency experts to participate in this year’s program,” she added.

These included companies like Blyncsy, based in Salt Lake City, which analyzes roadway infrastructure to note the overall condition of the road to include stripping, deterioration and other markings via a network of dash cams on personal and commercial vehicles.

“Using artificial intelligence, we analyze each image for maintenance issues and detect the assets automatically,” said Mark Pittman, founder and CEO of Blyncsy, in an email. Last year, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) launched a pilot project to experiment with the Blyncsy technology. And more recently, the departments of transportation in Arizona and New Mexico have deployed the technology.

“We’re using the technology to replace government workers having to drive roads looking for issues instead of being able to spend their time fixing them,” said Pittman, adding conventional technology uses a department of transportation-operated vehicle to survey road conditions.

The images used by Blyncsy come from cameras that have opted in, said Pittman, adding, faces, license plates and other identifying characteristics are blurred.

Another company to be deploying its technology in New York City transit is Invision AI, based in Toronto, Canada. It will use existing cameras, coupled with artificial intelligence technology to create a real-time 3D digital twin of a transit station. Quanergy, of Sunnyvale, Calif., will use lidar technology to create a digital twin.

The development of digital twins — a form of interactive map and visual tool — are being explored by numerous organizations. Economic development officials in Orlando, Fla., have nearly completed a digital twin depicting the entire 40-square-mile metro region, set to be the centerpiece of the new offices of the Orlando Economic Partnership, to open in July.

“We’ve already begun most of the back end and the programming the design elements of it,” David Adelson, chief innovation officer with the Orlando Economic Partnership, recently told Government Technology. “It is a first of a kind.”

Other companies to be selected by the Transit Tech Lab include more sustainability minded solutions, in areas like transitioning fleets to electric vehicles or better understanding climate data.

StormSensor, based in Seattle, will partner with New Jersey Transit to provide better gathering and analysis of flood and other data. While The Mobility House, based in Belmont, Calif., will aid in the integration of EVs into public fleets while helping to minimize charging costs.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an attribution error. It has since been corrected.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.