12-10-2021

Happy Friday: An iNET™ Story

Wouldn’t it be nice if sitting in traffic for an hour on a Friday after work didn’t have to be your reality? Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to sit in gridlock, sandwiched between two semis, worried about being rear-ended, watching the exhaust fumes pollute the atmosphere? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little more of your weekend back? And wouldn’t it be nice if the new infrastructure bill could do something about that?

The good news is it can. This kind of scenario plays out in cities all over our nation and around the world, and it’s a big reason why iNET™—short for Intelligent NETworks—is such a successful product. And iNET™ is not just here to save your Friday evening plans; helping traffic move more efficiently produces safety and sustainability benefits too, which also happen to be objectives of the infrastructure bill.

How does iNET™ accomplish that exactly? By monitoring and recommending actions. iNET™ uses thousands of sensors to determine whether roadways are congested or whether there are accidents or injuries. In fact iNET™ communicates with 115,000 sensors, 24/7, every thirty seconds, and then recommends an action to the department of transportation, or an emergency responder, or the police department, or the public when it detects an issue, such as a serious accident.

Daniel Lukasik, the vice president of Intelligent Transportation Systems, who leads the iNET™ team, explains how iNET™ works:

“So let’s say I’m looking at the freeway system and I found an accident. I need to dispatch help, right? I need to send text messages, emails to emergency responders. Maybe that’s firemen. Maybe that’s police. Maybe that’s a tow truck. And then I need to notify the public, so I’m going to start putting messages on highway signs that there’s an accident coming downstream. I’m going to put that into cell phone applications as well as on websites. The last thing we want is people going to where this terrible accident is. We want them to take a different route. We’ll change dynamic message signs, traffic signal timing; we’ll change ramp metering rates. And then there’s something like active traffic management, which involves strategies like dynamic shoulder use, so we’ll open the shoulder with signs over the lanes to say, all right, you can now use the shoulder.”

When you get down to the nitty-gritty, you can really see what a difference a product like iNET™ makes for customers like state, city, and county departments of transportation, as well as for commuters.

Just look at the numbers:

  • Accidents are reduced by 40 percent, meaning the number of injuries and deaths are reduced by 40 percent.
  • Travel time is reduced by up to 15 percent, so traffic flow is increased by up to 22 percent.
  • Overall freeway delay is reduced by up to 30 percent, and throughput is increased by up to 28 percent.
  • The incident arrival time of emergency responders is faster by 15 percent.
  • Carbon monoxide and other emissions-related pollutants are reduced by up to 30 percent.

Sounds like a magic bullet, right? In a way, it is. iNET™ has been a star since its beginning, in 2005, when it was first conceived as a next-generation transportation management software that could be run on any PC with a browser, which would save clients’ IT departments a lot of money, would be easy to use, and would function in a way that its competitors couldn’t.

According to Daniel iNET™ “better understood web-based architecture where everyone just gets the same PC with a browser [and] they don’t have to install anything on it. So they loved the flexibility of that. All that was needed on the back end is what we would call a typical web server and a database. We just made it cheaper and more efficient for them, and that was what we were going for.”

For a good decade, the popularity and capabilities of iNET™ grew, winning $140 million in contracts. But eventually copycats emerged, and iNET™ evolved.

In 2014 we acquired Delcan, reinvested, integrated it as part of our smart cities vision for the future, and added eight new modules to outpace our competitors once again. Now we have a hack-proof product that offers all its original benefits, plus video analytics to detect wrong-way drivers; connected vehicle features that support vehicles “talking” to each other to avoid dangerous situations; AI to predict travel times; advanced data analytics; and cloud computing, which means iNET™ can be installed on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure Cloud, or Google Cloud. By being in the cloud, clients are once again given the flexibility other companies can’t offer.

The future looks bright.

From enhancing the safety of people and vehicles to improving climate resiliency, iNET™ has it covered. What’s left? World domination? Maybe. Although iNET™ is primarily in the States, it’s also being used in South America, Cyprus, Macao, France, and Canada. And there are clients clamoring for iNET™, impressed by the software’s fleet functionality, microsimulation, and traffic-prediction capabilities.

And as long as the team keeps up its long-term goal, which, Daniel says, is “always to be the latest and the greatest and the freshest,” and as long as they continue their quest to deliver the best possible solution, as long as iNET™ continues its rapid evolution, your podcast listening time and phone call time will be cut short, you may never finish your audiobook, and you may have to stay for the entirety of the kids’ birthday parties you begrudgingly RSVP’d to.

But on the bright side, your stress levels will go down, you’ll breathe easier (in more ways than one), you’ll avoid dangerous traffic situations, and you’ll actually be on time for once. And most important, you’ll have more of your weekend back.

Happy Friday!

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