November 5, 2019 – Q-Free (OSE: QFR), a global leader in mobility solutions for smart city infrastructure, delivered a challenge today to all traffic signal control companies to release their Management Information Bases (MIBs) in order to speed up innovation and reduce agency costs. The challenge and accompanying campaign called FREE the MIBS (or #FREEtheMIBS), follows Q-Free’s unprecedented industry move this summer to release their manufacturer-specific MIBs to the company’s award-winning MAXTIME ic local controller software. That move underscored the company’s commitment to open standards which will fuel Smart City innovation and ultimately benefit the commuting public.
Openly sharing MIBs enables multi-vendor solutions to work, giving departments of transportation the freedom to select the best solution for their needs while avoiding being locked into a single vendor or paying integration fees. Not only does it protect an agency’s investment, it promotes fair and open competition, deterring price discrimination and preventing taxpayers from overpaying for transportation infrastructure.
“This is a greater good case and we realized quickly that this issue was much bigger than us,” said Tom Stiles, Executive vice president of urban solutions at Q-Free. “When every company operates with its own standards, states, cities, and the public lose. Proprietary MIBs are stifling innovation and forcing agencies to spend unnecessary money to manage traffic efficiently. The only way to get truly smart cities is to open these MIBs up so all technology pieces can communicate with each other.”
MIBs provide a common language for central traffic management systems and transportation management devices to communicate. For traffic signal operations, the MIBs are used to manage traffic signals through the advanced transportation controllers (ATC) located in a cabinet on the roadside. While approximately 15- 20% of the objects found in the MIBs for ATCs have been standardized (NTCIP 1201 and 1202 standards), the remaining 75-80% of the objects are manufacturer specific. This severely limits interoperability between devices and systems from different vendors and impedes customers from choosing the best available solutions from multiple vendors. Sharing MIBs freely between manufacturers and agencies can alleviate these problems and help rid streets of unnecessary congestion caused by a lack of choice.
“Being compliant with the existing standards is not the same as being open,” Stiles said. “I understand the fear because you’ll no longer be able to lock cities down from a sales perspective. But our industry has lacked innovation for the last 15 to 20 years, and bigger tech companies will eat us all if we don’t work together to make ourselves more adaptive to the growing Internet of Things culture.”
As part of the campaign, the collaborative advocate web site FREEtheMIBS.org was unveiled along with an accompanying hashtag, #FREEtheMIBS.
“We realize there will be a lot of talk about how this is an impossible task with potentially scary outcomes, but there is absolutely nothing about what we’re suggesting that can’t be solved if we work together. We’re confident in that,” said Stiles. To dispel frequent myths about releasing proprietary MIBs, the campaign dedicated a portion of its website to answering common misconceptions which can be found at FREEtheMIBS.org/faqs.
#FREEtheMIBS is already gaining traction and will continue to recruit like-minded advocates – agencies, associations, vendors, and individuals – to join the campaign and lend their voices to the cause. This is the first of several announcements the campaign will make over the course of the next year. For more information on how to participate in #FREEtheMIBS or to start a conversation, please visit us at FREEtheMIBS.org.
Q-Free ASA (OSE: QFR) is a global innovator in intelligent transportation systems that improve traffic flow, road safety, and air quality. With an open, collaborative approach to tolling, traffic and active transportation management, Q-Free works with customers and partners on every continent to digitize infrastructure and overcome modern mobility challenges for the greater good of society.
Headquartered in Trondheim, Norway, Q-Free has annual revenues of approximately 1 billion NOK (100 million USD) and employs about 360 transportation innovators, experts, and enthusiasts. To learn more about how Q-Free is changing the movements of life, visit www.q-free.com.
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