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Transit Tech Lab seeking innovative safety solutions during coronavirus crisis


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Transit Tech Lab, a program focused on identifying and testing innovative transit-based technologies to improve network service and bolster customer experience, has now set its sights on enhancing mass transit safety amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership have announced the third round of the Transit Tech Lab, this time seeking private companies that can provide innovative technological solutions to make transit safer, cleaner, healthier and more responsive.

“To truly modernize every element of how we run our transit system, you have to look far and wide for new ideas,” said Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg. “That means tapping into the city’s robust entrepreneurial and technology scenes and thinking in new ways about how a vital institution like New York City Transit can embrace innovation in everything it does.”

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The Lab offers the MTA a faster, less expensive way to test and review new technologies developed by the top transit innovators in the world.

The MTA is seeking submissions for products that can improve health and safety throughout the transit system, specifically products that can eliminate contaminated aerosols in a confined environment.

Other transit agencies seeking submissions, like the New York City Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit, and the Port Authority, are seeking a broader set of technologies including, but not limited to:

  • Thermal monitoring tools and systems to automatically measure body temperatures
  • Cutting-edge cleaning materials and equipment such as electrostatic sprayers, new-design air filtration systems, light-based systems and anti-microbial shields
  • Approaches to measure and encourage distancing in shared transit spaces
  • Tools to measure, communicate and mitigate crowding in trains, buses, stations and other shared spaces
  • Tools and frameworks to identify and communicate potential exposure risks
  • Tools to measure and support the use of masks and other personal protective equipment
  • Innovations in personal protective equipment, including contactless vending and fare card machines, mask and shield designs, sanitizer dispensers, and partitions
  • Approaches and technologies to redesign shared spaces and fare collection in vehicles and stations to encourage cleanliness, health, safety and distancing
  • Platforms to expand customer feedback and communication opportunities
  • Autonomous cleaning robots and robotic equipment to support cleaning crews
  • Secure digital services to further support mental and physical health among transit employees, such as counseling, coaching and self-care platforms
  • Tools to support remote transit employees such as secure cloud platforms for infrastructure monitoring, situational awareness, operations and service delivery

Companies interested in applying are required to submit an application by July 30 at transitinnovation.org.

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“The pandemic hit us in New York like no other place in the country. MTA took unprecedented steps the past four months, opening itself up to innovative ways to reduce the risk to our riders and our workers,” said MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd.

“We are excited to partner with the Transit Innovation Partnership in our quest to find new technologies and approaches that safely remove contaminated aerosols from our public transit system,” Dowd added.

PREVIOUS TRANSIT TECH LAB PROJECTS

During the Transit Tech Lab’s inaugural campaign, the MTA selected the following four technologies to pilot on the city’s buses and subways.

Preteckt: Studies vehicle data from buses to predict system failures at least 48 hours before the Check Engine light is activated and the bus must be removed from service. Preteckt’s insights have the potential to reduce time spent on maintenance, prevent service disruptions and reduce fleet costs.

Remix: Provides software for designing transit systems that enables MTA planners to more quickly and efficiently produce the bus network redesign outlined in the Fast Forward NYC Plan. To ensure equitable access and support public engagement, Remix’s technology uses public demographic data and generates easy-to-understand transit maps for community feedback.

Axon Vibe: Provides smartphone app technology that enables public transport operators to deliver personalized communications based on users’ commuting behavior. If service is changed, MTA can proactively notify the impacted users (taking into consideration their location and context) and provide alternative transportation suggestions based on rider’s anticipated destination and commuting preferences.

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Veovo: Instantly measures the number of passengers moving through a subway station to identify crowding and make service more efficient. The MTA can use this information to improve the deployment of staff to stations, change train distribution and plan more efficient station design.

The next year, nine technologies were selected to improve accessibility, entrepreneurial revenue generation and curb coordination.

Acoustic Protocol: Converts audio public address announcements into personalized, targeted messages to improve accessibility for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. (New York City Transit and Metro-North Railroad)

NaviLens: Uses a computer vision algorithm that interprets geospatial information and provides navigation guidance in any space without use of GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi or cell coverage. (New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Okeenea: Smartphone app that provides transit system navigation for customers who are blind/low vision or deaf/hard of hearing. (New York City Transit and Amtrak)

Knaq: Provides predictive elevator and escalator maintenance tools enabling any service elevator to be digitized and its status instantly updated online. (New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Allvision IO: Inventories curb infrastructure and monitors street parking behavior of both commercial and non-commercial vehicles. (New York City Department of Transportation)

CARMERA: Provides up-to-the-minute construction data and descriptions, such as obstructions in parking spots or traffic lanes. (New York City Transit)

CurbFlow: Marketplace for curbside access that sources dedicated curb supply from municipalities to create pickup and drop-off management and maps. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

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Numina: Measures curb-level behaviors using a proprietary, camera-based sensor that mounts to any fixed infrastructure. Numina processes all imagery securely onboard the sensor, anonymously measures activity and provides behavioral insights to improve traffic operations. (New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

Miles: Provides anonymized multimodal analytics to cities and offers mileage-based rewards to users encouraging public transit use. (New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)



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