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December 2013

Kirkland company unveils improved tool

to monitor traffic speeds and snarls

By NWREporter

December 2013

INRIX logoIn a quest to "break free from shackles of traditional traffic technology" and to help cities cut costs for traffic-monitoring infrastructures, INRIX introduced XD™ Traffic, a new service to improve traffic technology for the world's one billion drivers.

A free mobile app for consumers' smart phones promises to empower drivers with real-time traffic information and to improve urban mobility. The tool takes into account traffic congestion, road construction, accidents and alternate routes.

Based in Kirkland, INRIX officials say their company's "extreme definition" service (XD) will cover more roads with greater precision than any other provider of traffic data. Using crowd-sourced data from millions of places, the company says it can now detail traffic speeds in 800-foot increments, and on smaller, less busy roads not covered by competitors.

"Future mobility depends on all drivers, transportation agencies, and news organizations having access to detailed, up-to-the-minute insight into what's happening on every road, everywhere," said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO. "Just as INRIX revolutionized mapping and navigation with crowd-sourced traffic information and traffic influenced routing, we're doing it again with INRIX XD Traffic."

When unveiled in late October, the robust snapshot of traffic information covered 4 million miles in 37 countries. The enhancement added a million miles of roads to its coverage area.

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Unlike government traffic tracking methods, INRIX's data platform does not rely on sensor networks that are usually found on the busiest roads. Scott Sedlik, VP of product planning for INRIX, outlined features and advantages of its technology in interviews with GeekWire and Automotive World. By fusing together information from multiple sources, including smartphones, fleet vehicles, and GPS navigation systems, INRIX can determine actual speeds and is able to quickly identify accidents, road closures and "smarter driving decisions."

As an example, Sedlik said when the bridge in Skagit County collapsed last May, INRIX monitors detected an abrupt stoppage of traffic flow data and decided to close the bridge on their maps, then validated the cause of the disruption with Washington DOT cameras. It reported the anomaly and closure a half-hour before competitors.

"In a world measured in miles, INRIX is measuring in minutes," said Roger Lanctot, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. "Traffic is the single most important telematics application and INRIX XD Traffic is the first service with the potential to help the industry deliver on the promise of real-time navigation. Without reliable and accurate traffic data, it is impossible to determine the best routes, accurate arrival times, or even vehicle range based on fuel resources."

INRIX spun out of Microsoft Research more than eight years ago and now has 300 employees. Its clients and partners include the automotive market, mobile enterprises, fleets, news media, the government/public sector (including Washington's Department of Transportation), and real estate businesses.

INRIX believes it can save governments and transportation agencies money by providing "real-time, predictive and historical traffic information, and real-time incident and weather safety alerts unlike any others," and as a maintenance-free alternative to building infrastructures. In Seattle, for example, the mayor proposes an expenditure of $1.6 million to improve access and traffic flow in the Central Business District by installing 75 street sensors and 32 closed circuit TVs to monitor traffic and hiring additional engineers.

Another industry it targets is real estate. Earlier this year, INRIX partnered with a real estate company with offices in 10 states to introduce "Drive Time," a platform that uses crowd-sourced information from a community of approximately 100 million vehicles and devices. With this tool, drive times between listed homes and destinations such as offices and schools may be calculated in 15-minute increments. INRIX notes a recent study by the National Association of REALTORS® shows that 73% of new home buyers consider drive time to work as a key buying criterion.

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INRIX is one of the fastest growing big data technology companies in the world. The company leverages crowd-sourced data and sophisticated analytics to reduce the individual, economic and environmental toll of traffic congestion. In introducing its XD Traffic service, the company said it will help "more than 150 million drivers save time, fuel and frustration."