CrowdedCROSS enables Digital Trigger for safer pedestrian crossings
Innotech Insights, a technology and software company based at the University of Leeds’ innovation centre, Nexus, have recently launched CrowdedCROSS: a new contactless system designed to enable safer and touchless pedestrian crossings.
The “digital trigger” means pedestrians can safely cross highways without the need for traditional stop buttons. Several UK local authorities have already ordered the technology, while a wider international launch is planned for later in the year.
Smart product development
Established in 2015, Innotech Insights creates data collection and analysis systems to track pedestrian movements, along with SaaS products and Connected Places for both public and private companies.
The SaaS business model involves selling cloud-based software (usually accessed via an app) at an annual subscription fee. It’s an effective revenue system used to successfully increase profits. Innotech Insights have created a variety of SaaS Crowded products suitable for use in numerous environments, including retail, city, transport and leisure.
By employing pedestrian scanning hardware in partnership with software that automatically collects and analyses data, Crowded products can successfully track pedestrian movement and visitor demographics.
Innotech Insights started using Nexus as their base in 2019 after receiving an £160k investment from Maven Capital Partners to expand their company and develop and launch more products.
Safer pedestrian crossings
“We created ‘CrowdedCROSS’ during lockdown, because our core business – monitoring people movement and behaviour to inform planning decisions – obviously came to an abrupt halt as people were staying at home,” explains Innotech Insights founder and CEO, Liam Wright. “Our data analytics specialists re-focused their expertise on tackling the issue of public health and safety when using crossings and other points of public access, offering pedestrians using a smart device a COVID-safe, contactless experience.”
Overall, CrowdedCROSS uses three different features to improve the safety of pedestrian crossings, and in turn, better facilitate data collection for local authorities and highway maintenance: a hand-held proximity detector, a “digital trigger” connected to a smartphone app, and a Bluetooth sensor allowing people to access the latest official news updates and information about highway conditions and safety.
CrowdedCROSS has already been successfully installed by Blackburn Council — the first local authority to benefit from the software. They aim to utilize the system in 66 areas throughout Blackburn.
Additionally, Leeds City Region has also announced their interest in adopting the technology, and is in early talks with Innotech Insights. Moreover, CrowdedCROSS has been developed with the needs of pedestrians with disabilities in mind.
“We also worked closely with a number of disability organisations to ensure the software was accessible and catered for those with mobility issues, as well as those who may be partially sighted or have sensory sensitivities. We’re currently developing wearables, including wristbands and keyrings to make it even more user-friendly and to challenge the barriers which are faced by these groups when using pedestrian crossings,” says Wright.
Ultimately, Innotech Insights plans on expansion in order to offer their products to a wider global customer base.
“We want to optimise safety, accessibility and experience for many people who need assistance in navigating the infrastructure around towns, cities and highways in a bid to remove stress and safety concerns they may have,” notes Wright. Nexus are now aiming to secure second-stage funding in order to develop both across the UK and internationally.