Pedestrian crossings get COVID-safe ‘digital trigger’

Posted on April 11, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox

CrowdedCROSS

Innotech Insights has launched a ‘digital trigger’ to revolutionise safety from COVID-19 at pedestrian crossings. 

The company, based at University of Leeds innovation hub Nexus, has already secured orders for the CrowdedCROSS pedestrian crossing system from UK local authorities and is set to launch to its international customer base later this year. 

“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,” said Liam Wright, founder and CEO of Innotech Insights. 

“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.  

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.” 

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CrowdedCROSS consists of three main elements to assist pedestrian crossing and data collection for highway maintenance and local authorities: a hand-based proximity sensor, a digital trigger using a mobile phone app and a Bluetooth beacon which enables users to access highways and local authority messaging about roadworks and road safety. 

Blackburn Council is the first local authority in the UK to adopt the system, with plans to install it in 66 locations across the town. Innotech is also in early-stage discussions with local authorities across the Leeds City Region. 

“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 as we move into a post-pandemic world,” said Wright. 

“We have been so fortunate to have the support of the Nexus community and the connections they bring across the wider tech and regional communities.  

The advice and expertise of their team and specialist partners helped us to secure a successful first-round funding three years ago and we’re now looking to move to second-stage funding later this year to continue our growth across the UK and internationally.” 

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Innotech has developed a series of Crowded products, designed for city, transport, retail and leisure sector applications. Combining pedestrian scanning hardware with purpose-built software that collects and auto-analyses data, it can monitor anything from pedestrian volume and time spent at public events, such as sports matches, to visitor demographics and habits at retail and leisure destinations. 

Dr Martin Stow, Nexus Director, said: “Innotech Insights is an incredible example of the resilience and versatility shown by so many of our Nexus member businesses as they’ve adapted to the challenges arising from the pandemic. 

“Liam and his team have reset and renewed their offer, using their knowledge and strength in data analytics, to create a new product which delivers a simple, but effective solution to a specific issue, as well as providing significant societal benefit.  

At the same time, they continue to refine and develop their core business, to scale at pace on the international stage. This combination of product development and investment focus will provide Innotech with a strong future for business growth.” 

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