This Canadian-based company wants to revolutionize the way we drive, park and pay for transportation insurance through its GPS data-based smart metering technology solution.
Skymeter Corp. is a Toronto-based company that was founded in 2006, based on research that began in 2002, the company’s CEO, Kamal Hassan explains. While the company only has a team of nine full-time employees, as well as some part-timers, Hassan said the company already has a global partner and customer presence.
The company’s flagship GPS-based road tolling solution is a metering system that facilities the automatic payment of vehicle services based on factors such as time, distance and place. Instead of getting things such as a parking ticket, the driver simply gets a bill at the end of the month, with a price that reflects what was used. This is made possible by an electronic meter from Skymeter that sits on the vehicle’s dashboard, Hassan said.
“There are three big problems when it comes to transportation in the world today,” Hassan said. “Traffic jams, high greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and government imbalances and deficits. We can solve all of these problems by having drivers pay for what they use, when they use it by using a metering system.”
The Skymeter solution works essentially like an electricity meter, which measures and determines costs based on a pay-per-use basis. Hassan said Skymeter’s goal is to offer the same sort of metering service but with roads, parking and insurance in mind. This would allow any charges to be sent to a driver’s account automatically, he added. The GPS technology allows the electronic meter to charge the user based on how many kilometers were driven, or what zone the driver was in at certain times.
Hassan said the idea behind this metering solution came form the company’s chief scientist, Bern Grush, who received a parking ticket one day.
“Bern wanted to know why the car couldn’t pay the ticket automatically for him,” Hassan said. “He wanted to know why in a digital age, that we, as drivers, still need to feed coins into meters on the road just to pay for parking. He went to Europe and spoke with some people there and they suggested he come up with a parking solution that used a private GPS system for road tolling.”
Hassan said Skymeter’s go-to-market strategy focuses on being able to sell and enable other companies to offer metering services to customers. The company will sell billing data and an electronic meter to a service provider, if required, who in turn, offers a service to end customers that are in need of a metering solution.
“Service providers, which also include telcos, are the point of contact for the customer,” Hassan said. “They’re the ones who bring the technology and customer together to offer a service. Service providers are the ones who make the sale and run the service and have the customer contact point. We sell the billing data so we provide the meters to partners and we do the billing calculations. The partner then takes that data and collects the money from their end-users.”
One of the company’s primary goals right now is to identify potential partners in different markets and reach out to them, while also responding to other partner requests.
“We’re open to serving multiple partners at once,” Hassan said. “We’re looking to serve and support all partners who can make a good business in the metering business for themselves and us. We’re also looking for partners who have niche applications where our meter would be useful. One of our major customer groups who’s interested in metering-enabled services are governments and municipalities. We prefer to deal with partners who have a history with these types of customers and who have worked with them before.”
The City of Winnipeg is an example of a customer that has recently implemented a Skymeter-based parking project, Hassan said. Up next for Skymeter is another parking project with a Toronto-based office tower, who Hassan said is not able to be named yet. This company will use the Skymeter solution as an alternative to a monthly parking pass, where users will get a rebate for any days they don’t use the parking pass.
As for pricing, Hassan said Skymeter charges partners for the data service as a monthly fee. From there, the partner sells the service to the customer. He noted that it’s really up to the partner though to determine how they want to price the parking, tolling or insurance services.