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For Safe, Reliable Bus Transit, Enforcement is Key

Buses are a vital part of public transportation networks, and cities increasingly have been strengthening that network with dedicated bus lanes for safer and more efficient transit. Illegally parked vehicles can be a serious problem for bus service, and parking enforcement for those cars can be a challenge. In this Government Technology Q&A, Stuart McKee (left) and Chris Carson (right) share their thoughts about the important role of enforcement in a reliable transit system. They are the COO and CEO, respectively, of Hayden AI, which offers an innovative bus-mounted enforcement device for cities.

Obviously, the pandemic decimated ridership on public transit, something cities will be dealing with for years to come. What other ways did the pandemic impact public transportation?

McKee: There’s a bunch of jobs you can’t do via Zoom. According to 2018 Census data, 2.8 million American workers in essential industries commute to work on public transit every day. That’s about 36 percent of all transit commuters.

Applying artificial intelligence and edge-based processing to transit is going to affect a significant population of individuals as well as a massive amount of our economic infrastructure.

Carson: Through COVID, we saw this digital transformation that’s been on the rise for several years: Companies like Lyft, Uber and Amazon don’t operate from storefronts, but conduct business from the curbs. Those increasingly congested curbsides are now slowing down buses. As buses slow, workers have to spend more time on those buses. This leads to lost time and lower economic productivity.

Your technology uses busmounted sensors to identify and issue tickets for cars illegally parked in a bus lane. How does it work?

McKee: Our compute box is not much bigger than an Apple MacMini. And it’s got a massive amount of compute — 21 teraflops of processing power. Using sensor fusion, we achieve precision localization using data from whee odometry, GPS, vision and more.

Carson: Our perception system can see and reason in 3D. Using mapping layers as a “super sensor,” it can tell where a car is parked to within a 10-centimeter accuracy and if the car is parked in front of a fire hydrant, even if the system can’t see the hydrant because the car is blocking it.

McKee: Because of this perception platform and the massive amount of computing, we can use vision to understand things that we couldn’t have ever imagined five years ago.

What policies — federal, state and local — are you seeing right now that will impact the way cities manage transit?

McKee: We’re really pleased to see a lot of city leaders talking about mobility. And it’s not just the big ones. It’s not just New York and L.A. I mean, the current secretary of transportation is a mayor from a fairly small town. And he talks frequently about how important public transportation is. We’re pleased to see this discussion at the federal level, and in cities — and at the state level too. We should talk specifically about California Assembly Bill 917 [a proposed piece of legislation that would allow video imaging of parking violations in transit-only lanes statewide.] That’s an example where we’ve seen a discussion around the importance of efficient public transportation. And we’re incredibly pleased that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office dialed in their support. We feel this validates some of the effort we’ve put in, and we’re going to work really hard to provide tools and capabilities that helps folks like Mayor Garcetti realize their vision.

Hayden AI was founded on the belief that by combining mobile sensors with artificial intelligence, we can help governments bridge the innovation gap while making traffic flow less dangerous and more efficient.