Toronto-based startup Flybits, a company incubated at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), has teamed up with the City of Ottawa to launch an impressive navigation app. It can tell drivers and pedestrians relevant real-time information about construction, collisions, speed limit notifications in construction and school zones, and more.
The Ottawa Nav application maps the city into zones, associating contextual data with every location. As commuters move throughout the city, they receive useful and relevant information in real time based on their location and travel preferences.
Flybits CEO Dr. Hossein Rahnama called the City of Ottawa a “pioneer in the discovery and actualization of a smarter, more connected city.”
“Ottawa is the first city in the world to deploy a context-aware computing strategy,” he said. “The system senses and interprets contextual parameters—such as location, day, time, mobile and personal preferences—surrounding each individual user, delivering relevant and customized services to make the most out of their mobile experience. Ottawa Nav is launching with a focus on intelligent traffic solutions, but the same framework can be used to disseminate all useful information pertaining to Ottawa.”
Rahnama is a Ryerson professor who founded Flybits with his students. Since it launched two years ago, it’s already gone international, said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. “Flybits is helping communities adopt technology that dramatically improves the quality of life,” he added.
I immediately questioned why such an app is in Ottawa at all. Shouldn’t it be made for the driver’s purgatory, known as Toronto? Well, Recently Flybits and Ryerson worked with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to create a smart internal communications system for optimizing workforce efficiency. Not only that, but in 2011 Flybits and Ryerson University developed the context-aware GO Mobile app for GO Transit, the largest transit entity in Canada. The Go Mobile app has now been downloaded by more than 500,000 passengers.
The app’s functionality differs depending on whether the user is a driver or a passenger. For drivers, the mobile app delivers relevant audible instructions to inform users of events occurring in their area of travel, including construction projects, collisions and other unplanned incidents. Ottawa Nav will also provide speed limit notifications in construction and school zones. While in passenger mode, users can tap into the City and Ministry of Transportation of Ontario’s traffic cameras to access live feeds from the traffic situation within and near their immediate location.