Since 2007, Uppsala based startup Sensebit has developed a solution that helps authorities to understand traffic flows better. Einar got the chance to ask CEO Fredrik Zettergren a few questions about recent business news and some challenges within their industry.
First, how would you explain your product for a layman?
To know how traffic flows on the road network is essential for governmental and regional authorities in all developed countries. Typically you want a timestamp, type classification and speed for each vehicle that drives on a certain road segment during a period of measurement. This information can be collected in any number of ways, but the most common one today is rubber tubes placed on the pavement or inductive copper wire embedded in the road. Although these methods have been improved over decades of usage worldwide, they have serious drawbacks when it comes to installation cost, safety and accuracy.
To know how traffic flows on the road network is essential for governmental and regional authorities in all developed countries
Sensebit have, by utilizing recent development in the field of low power sensor networks and AI, developed a system without these drawbacks. Our sensors are embedded in the road and are remotely controlled from the office using the public cellular network. We enable customers to collect accurate traffic data for up to 10 years without visiting the measurement after installation.
We enable customers to collect accurate traffic data for up to 10 years without visiting the measurement after installation
We also focus a lot on the user experience, which actually isn’t all that common within the traffic technology field today. Our sensors requires no roadside equipment and the user interacts with them and analyze the collected data in an simple web interface. This makes the process of building an understanding of the traffic situation much easier and cuts a lot of overhead, especially for smaller organizations.
You recently landed a contract in Norway, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah, sure. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration is responsible for collecting traffic data on the national and county road network in Norway. They are one of the national road administrations that are pushing forward when it comes to new technology within the industry. Lately, they have decided to revise their data collection system to achieve higher quality data for both statistics and real-time observations. To reach the goals, a fairly extensive replacement of existing data collection equipment will be carried out. Sensebit was selected among more than 10 companies from all over the world competing for the contract.
Sensebit was selected among more than 10 companies from all over the world competing for the contract
The procurement was based on third party evaluations of data accuracy, overall technical solution and cost. So, we are not only happy to deliver systems to Norway, but also proud to have been selected in such tough competition.
How is it to work with procurements (sv. upphandlingar) when you are a startup?
Well, it can be both frustrating and exciting. First off, it takes a lot of time from when a potential customer discovers your product to the time you see any business. This can of course be a problem for startups that usually don’t have that much resources in the bank. If you are lucky, you have patient investors that can see that you are moving in the right direction although that next big deal is moving very slowly.
On the other hand, since the procurements often are based on technical performance versus cost rather than who has the best marketing or lobbyists, we can bid for very big contracts that would otherwise not be possible in competition with much larger multinational giants. So, if you have a good product and some patience, it can be a great way of doing business.
If you have a good product and some patience, it can be a great way of doing business
What big challenges and opportunities do you see down the road?
For us, the big challenge right now is getting traffic authorities around the world to discover that there is a better way of collecting traffic data, and to be there when they do. This means establishing distributors and system integrators in new countries and regions that can spread the word and help new user with moving to a new way of doing things. This can be quite a challenge, but also a great opportunity.