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June 24, 2010

Five Questions: DRIVES mobile traffic tool

I'm planning to make Five Questions a more regular feature on our blog to highlight local people and businesses who are using the internet in innovative ways.

Today's edition features an interview with Barrie Kirk, President of Globis Data Inc. He's launched DRIVES, a real-time traffic information service for smartphones. (It's designed for mobile devices but anyone can access the site.)
1. How does it work?

The traffic map is powered by our users who allow us to collect data from their cell-phones. When users opt in, their Bell, Telus, Solo, or Virgin mobile phone becomes a traffic probe. We use the data to calculate real time traffic flow information and present it to users via the above mobile web site. It costs users nothing, it's completely anonymous, and drivers get the best real-time traffic data available.

Globis has patented this technolgy (US Patent 7,650,227) and Ottawa is the first commercial deployment of the system.

2. Who's running the business? Who came up with the idea?

Globis Data -- an Ottawa company -- is running the business. We came up with the idea and we have developed it. (They're based in Kanata.)

3. How can Ottawa drivers participate?
There are two ways:
1) To enroll in the program, users text "optin gdata" (without the quotes) to 32010 on their Bell, Telus, Solo, or Virgin mobile phone. (We plan to have support for Rogers phones later this year.)
2) Users can see the traffic information by pointing the browser on their smartphones to http://mobile.drivestraffic.com. The service is free and there is no need to download an app for either part of the service. We recommend that users have a data plan with their wireless carriers. More information is available on our web site at http://ottawa.drivestraffic.com

4. So far you're covering east-west commutes along the Queensway to downtown. Any plans to expand to other routes?
Definitely. We will expand to include the bridges and key routes such as Hunt Club, Carling, Woodroffe, Hwy 416, etc. We will also expand this to a 24-hour service.

5. How are you making money from this?
Advertising.....and later we will add some premium services that will be on a subscription basis.

As an incentive to sign up, earlier this month Globis was offering $25 gas cards for anyone who signs up for the service. As of late last week there were still some available but Barrie says they're going fast. You can also follow the latest news from the company on Twitter via @drivestraffic.

Related: Ottawa Driving Guide

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