Uncorking the Bottleneck
January 30, 2017
Brisk Synergies Helps Ease Municipal Traffic Woes
From surviving the daily commute to traversing hectic side streets, anyone who’s recently driven in Toronto or any other large metropolitan city understands the impact of traffic congestion. The sheer volume of cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians adds a whole new dimension to the word congestion.
And yet, despite the magnitude of the problem, municipalities are limited in their ability to truly understand and measure the flow of traffic through the urban core. Even when they do collect traffic related data — for instance video footage of a troublesome intersection, cities do not have the time, human resources, or expertise to wade into the data and extract meaning. As a result, a significant amount of collected data — likely containing valuable answers to the problem at hand — sits unanalyzed.
Brisk Synergies is on a mission to solve this challenge. The company, founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur Charles Chung and transportation engineer Luis Miranda-Moreno works with city planners and transportation authorities to transform traffic movement into knowledge, allowing cities to solve critical traffic flow issues, ease congestion and design and build innovative traffic pathways through urban spaces to better serve vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.
“This is absolutely a big data issue,” says Charles Chung. “Municipalities all want to understand and improve traffic movement and provide safer transportation paths. The problem is they have too much data, and they don’t know what to do with it. Take for example video collected over a few weeks at a single intersection. It’s important, valuable information, but the answers lie somewhere within hours and hours and hours of footage that is difficult to store, wade through and interpret. Municipalities don’t have the resources or expertise to do this analysis. It is just operationally infeasible.”
Brisk Synergies’ traffic analysis platform is able to transform the infeasible to feasible. It takes video footage supplied by the city and using proprietary algorithms, conducts deep analysis the data to zero in on specific congestion challenges — for instance, spotting collision near-misses at a specific intersection. Brisk’s platform can not only spot those accidents that almost happened, it can calculate the probability and frequency of collisions with split-second accuracy. It can also help cities spot troublesome traffic issues and find answers to those issues much faster. “It would take man-years of time for a city to review all this footage, and even then, because humans are performing the effort the findings would be highly inaccurate an
d subjective,” says Chung. “Conversely, Brisk can have raw results back to a city in a week, and a final report back in two.”
Even better, because Brisk Synergies analysis highlights incidents within video frames, transportation managers can call up the footage and review the scenario first hand
Since moving into the Accelerator Centre in 2014, Chung and the team have been busy building out their platform and taste testing various traffic analysis applications to find the areas of greatest pain for its prospective customers.
“Video analysis of troublesome intersections is definitely showing the greatest market traction and will be where we focus our attention going forward,” says Charles Chung. “It is not an easy problem for municipalities to solve themselves and it has a lot of pain associated with it. The understanding we are able to bring to the table delivers real value.” He points to one project in the Greater Toronto Area, where the city was able to use Brisk’s analysis to greatly improve traffic flow through a specific intersection.
Over the last year, Brisk Synergies received a huge boost courtesy of $30K in AC JumpStart funding, made available through FedDev Ontario. “What we do requires very heavy, specialized skillsaround deep analysis of data. AC JumpStart enabled us to bring in key personnel offering unique value to our customers. It really helped accelerate our focus,” says Chung. In addition, the AC JumpStart program allowed Brisk to access additional mentor hours. “One of the biggest benefits coming out of the AC is the mentor guidance it provides. Mentors give you that real feedback that most people don’t have the heart to tell you. They understand business. Are familiar with the pain and challenges that affect startups. That sincere perspective is what makes the AC different from other incubator spaces out there.”
With a focused objective, Brisk Synergies is all about execution in 2017. Says Charles Chung, “it took us a while to define the offering that would deliver the greatest value. With that clarity, we are now pulling together the troops to align sales, marketing and our R&D and take the company to the next level.”
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Brisk Team Photo