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Not your parents’ garage – Microsoft Garage brings innovation to TransLink

Photo of participants of the Microsoft Garage Intern Program

TransLink is not just wheels, rails and propellers. Behind the scenes, we are teams of innovative creative thinkers constantly looking for cutting-edge ways to bring cool technology to our customers. To the hands of our customers in this case!

In May 2017, two dozen university students from across Canada began a four-month entrepreneurial internship at Microsoft Vancouver coined Microsoft Garage. Six of those interns formed Team TransLink and began working with experts from TransLink’s Business Technology Services (BTS) group and Microsoft mentors to explore the role machine learning could play in the organization, and how it could impact TransLink’s services.

Photo of participants of the Microsoft Garage Intern Program

With a team of six interns, collaborations began between TransLink and Microsoft mentors to create a platform that could determine bus ‘crowdedness’ using machine learning. The team used TransLink data to run a variety of simulations aimed at building predictive models of bus crowdedness. Using this predictive model, the interns built software which would allow customers to plan their trips based on how crowded a bus might be at different times of day.

“This was a great opportunity for us to work with bright, young talent,” noted Kurt Pregler, Chief Information Officer for TransLink. “By having the opportunity to work with these insightful and energetic interns, we were able to gain insights that would have taken longer to learn internally.”

While the software is still in development, we hope to find an avenue for it for future customer facing applications. As part of #TransLinkTomorrow, we’ve launched the Universal Fare Gate Access Program, Tap to Pay, and other ways to keep our region moving. This is just one more way that we are committed to finding new technologies, new innovation, and new ways to explore transportation options that work for Metro Vancouver.

An award-winning project

June 7, 2018 update

This innovative collaboration with the Microsoft Garage program won the Award of Excellence at the 2018 ThinkTransit: The Trapeze Technology Conference in the Advancement category. It recognizes transit agencies, organizations, and individuals who are striving to expand the boundaries of transit by seeking to make the seemingly impossible, possible, and redefining the shape of success in the process.

 

Author: Sarah Kertcher


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