The City of Toronto has started a pilot with TransitScreen to try out a couple of real-time transportation displays in city-owned buildings.
The TransitScreen displays tap into live, real-time transportation data – from TTC subways and buses to Zipcar and Bike Share Toronto – to hopefully give citizens a better shot at getting where they are going a little more easily. And quickly.
Toronto, like a lot of big cities, is more than a bit of a traffic mess – and city hall is looking for ways beyond just building more infrastructure to get people moving. The situation is so bad – though it is all relative, as I have been in traffic in Manila, Jakarta and Seoul – there is a weekend “TrafficJam” thinktank this fall to cook up new ideas.
The display slabs are installed at Toronto’s iconic city hall building and a few blocks away at the city-owned Metro Hall.
“The partnership with the City of Toronto is a major win for TransitScreen north of the border,” says TransitScreen COO Ryan Croft. “As more and more cities commit to sustainable urban mobility, we will continue to partner with leaders who want to help residents and visitors make more informed transportation choices.”
The screens were formally turned on today, hours after commuter hell apparently reigned as some already clogged freeways got temporary carpool lanes ahead of July’s Pan Am Games (an Olympics like thing for the Americas).
TransitScreen is. as far as I know, based in Washington, DC, but has an office in San Francisco (hence my uncertainty). I like what these guys do, as live data is incredibly relevant content.
The company MAY face a bit of a challenge getting much beyond the current footprint in downtown Toronto if the business model needs to have advertising to pay for the capital and operating costs of the screens and content. The Toronto PATH – an underground walkway system that funnels 100s of 1,000s to subways stations and the commuter rail station – already has digital display media contracts with companies like Cineplex and Pattison Onestop that would likely block out other displays if ads were involved.
I suspect that’s a similar story in many cities.
TransitScreen makes its money by selling the enabling software, so it’s the screen owner – be it a REIT or whatever – that needs to sort out the ROI. It may be that it no ads is just fine if the screens are seen as a great amenity by building tenants.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.