Redflex CEO and Managing Director Mark Talbot talks to Thinking Highways about how the company is looking to the future with an unprecedented level of excitement, hope and anticipation.
Q – Mark, Redflex is in the process of redefining its position in the marketplace and moreover, its value to customers Can you explain in a bit more detail what that will entail?
A – Traditionally, Redflex has been a red light and automated speed enforcement company, but over the years, we’ve known, and our customers have discovered, the technology we deploy has the capability to do so much more. We know that we can have a significant impact on safety and that’s our number one priority. The certainty of enforcement drives compliance. It’s an inarguable fact that when cameras are in place, violations go down and dangerous or bad driving behavior changes. That’s true in a red-light environment and it’s also true at railroad crossings, bus lanes or in work zones where vehicles come dangerously close to the people who repair our roadways. Because our installations can be permanent or temporary, fixed or mobile, demand for that is becoming more and more apparent as cities and state agencies are looking to use technology to make roads safer, less congested, and reduce the overall impact of vehicles on the environment.
Q – There different perceptions of automated enforcement in North America, Europe and Australia, so how do you refine the company’s global position while making sure you’re addressing the needs of the local community?
A – Because we have a truly global presence, we understand nuance. You’re right, perceptions are different on different continents and we work extremely hard to understand each client’s need, mindset and culture. In England, for example, there’s really only one legislative body that can affect policy while in the United States, you have 50. Each jurisdiction may have slightly different enabling legislation, but the uniform value is the desire to increase road safety. As a result, we cater our solutions by jurisdiction. In Europe, they may have broader language that allows for a variety of vehicle code statutes covered by automated enforcement, whereas in North America the policies are much more targeted. In those jurisdictions we work harder to help our customers and the public understand the safety and efficiency of automated enforcement.
Q – You mention road safety, reduced congestion and the derived environmental benefits. Can you talk about why and how Redlex puts so much importance on the environmental aspect?
A- One of the pillars of Intelligent Transportation Systems is the desire to reduce the impact of carbon from vehicle emissions. We know reducing accidents, managing congestion and increasing the overall throughput on existing roadways drives down the level of vehicle emissions. Right now, specifically we’re developing solutions that support low emission zone management, which are taking hold in Europe, where you’re charged based on the age and emissions profile of your vehicle. Our camera system can identify a vehicle, capture the license plate, identify the owner, categorize by make and model and translate that into a direct user charge. Low emission zone designations protect parts of a region historically susceptible to heavy congestion and, as a result, poor air quality. It’s a seamless solution and one we’re excited about because at the end of the day, we all want cleaner air.
Q – Do you think the perception of automated enforcement as an element of Intelligent Transportation and Smart Cities is changing?
A – I believe so and at Redflex, the numbers bear that out. Automated enforcement used to be a single threaded proposition, but technology is advancing, mobility is changing and demand for platform-based solutions is up. Within the last year, we’ve won major contracts with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide automated enforcement at railroad crossings and bus lane intersections, and in Canada, we signed a 10-year agreement to provide mobile speed enforcement services to the Ontario Traffic Council. In Pennsylvania, we’re providing enforcement in work zones statewide. There’ve been many others, but these are communities with their eyes on Smart Cities and progressive traffic management. We are a company that develops technology that we believe creates safer roads. We are an ITS company with automated enforcement at our core. I don’t think we’re ever going to shy a way from that and it’s always going to be a part of our culture. What we’re trying to do is expand that into other areas to create safer and more manageable roadways.
Q – What does the future look like?
A – Well, the one thing for sure is that individual mobility will continue to take on more dynamic shapes and sizes. It’s a phenomenon that comes with a cost to cities who have not found offsetting benefits that can be monetized. To manage this new reality, our customers need a technology-based solution and that’s what we do at Redflex. I see automated enforcement broadening into new areas and we’re preparing for that future. We have a commitment to R&D. We have a steady level of investment and the thing about R&D is not the big, one year spend, it’s the continuous consistent investment year after year to keep ahead of the curve. It takes a while to build momentum and it is terribly expensive to try and play catch up. In the future it will be about data, the information gathered by our sensors and decisions that can be automated to drive to efficient and timely outcomes. At Redflex, we don’t just want to follow trends. We want to lead and create real value for our customers. We’ve been in business with many of them for over 20 years. Because we develop our own technology, we control the design and the build and that gives us greater flexibility to customize a solution. We’re a proven and trusted vendor and therefore, we always want to be the partner they look to when they have a problem.
Throughout our industry, there’s a growing demand for safer roads, reduced congestion and improved air quality at a reasonable cost. In our recent positioning exercise, we decided we wanted to save lives, save time, save money and save the planet. That’s pretty strong alignment.
Mark J.Talbot is CEO, Director & Managing Director at Redflex Holdings Ltd. and President & Director at Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.
Words by Kevin Borras