Thursday, 28 July 2011

Inrix purchase of ITIS

Interesting news today, as Inrix announce their $60m/£37m purchase of ITIS.  I first worked closely with ITIS when they were launching the first RDS TMC service (for Toyota around ten years ago).  Having been involved with them in one way or another pretty much ever since, I'm glad for Stuart et al to get a good price for the business.  And I think it's a good thing for the industry because too many different outfits chasing the same money wasn't sustainable.

From what I've learnt, Inrix is a good company with very clever people who have good business ethics.  And companies able to provide services across country borders is essential for the future, given that all the car firms and nav manufacturers (the main users of the data) are multinationals.  Up till now, too often that's not been the case, and although international information provision has been improving, this will speed up the process considerably.

Given what I've seen in the US and Britain, though, I think the British technology is more advanced than America.  (Caveat - at the moment, it's only a gut feeling and I need to go away and do some proper research before I make an idiot of myself.)  Having been stuck in Friday rush-hour in LA, and have witnessed North America's most congested road (apparently), which is the 404 in Toronto, I know how hideous the traffic can be there, compared with the M25, M6 or M1.  But I remember being surprised how poor, in comparison to the British equivalent, the flow data was for Toronto when I analysed it 18 months ago or so, so I suspect the ITIS know-how and algorithms will help the North American driver.  However, as I say, I write 18 months behind any Canadian advances, so ought to go away to do some proper research before returning to this subject.

What I can say is that having spoken to managers of Traffic Management Centres in America, they all face exactly the same challenges as their British counterparts!  So I think the future sharing of ideas has to be good for the industry.

The interesting thing is that American businesses now dominate the UK market, with Inrix buying ITIS and Trafficmaster already in American venture-capital hands (OK, there's TomTom too, and but they're not a British company either!).  So this sharing of best practise, should - if done properly - be good for drivers both sides of the Atlantic, and indeed both sides of the road.

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