One for the road

One for the road

TotalPave replaces specialized vehicles and instrumentation with a smartphone app and clever analytics that could save municipalities a lot of money

Coady Cameron’s Eureka Moment came on an otherwise usual day at school. It was in a fourth year civil engineering class, and a guest lecturer was explaining the importance, and exorbitant cost, of collecting up-to-date data on potholes, bumps, cracks, and other road conditions.

That data is used by municipalities to detect pavement problems at an early stage, allowing for simple, costeffective repairs and patches. That’s preferable to a major repaving job after further road deterioration.

The lecturer explained that road condition data is generally gathered by a specially instrumented van (worth over $800,000). Cameron wondered, “Why isn’t anyone doing this with a smartphone?” And TotalPave was born.

TotalPave is a smartphone app that uses modern GPS and motion-detecting technology to analyze road conditions.

“By mounting any smartphone device equipped with our software within a vehicle, industry standard road condition data can easily be collected and streamed to municipal databases with the touch of a button,” says Cameron.

The result? Cheaper, easier, and more accurate data collection. Because the instrumented vans are so expensive, Cameron says many municipalities that want road data “generally do so by contracting the collection out to large engineering consulting firms approximately every four years.” This isn’t ideal: “Roads can change drastically in a four-year time span, especially with erratic Canadian weather patterns.”

TotalPave software automatically collects data as town vehicles go about their daily business. This “gives the control to the municipality, and provides a much more dynamic and rich dataset, all at a cost that is significantly lower than any competitors.” Small municipalities will have access to information they couldn’t previously afford; larger municipalities can shed outdated equipment and improve their pavement managing systems. All users will have the ability to better plan roadwork, saving thousands of dollars.

Coady Cameron’s business partner is his brother Drew. Coady has the engineering and technical background (he is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering) and Drew has the business savvy, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration under his belt and both an MBA and Chartered Financial Analyst designation underway. The Fredericton-based brothers complement each other perfectly.

“Drew and I work great together as a team,” Coady Cameron says. “We don’t keep score, and egos are checked at the door. We don’t compromise; we do what we mutually think is best for the company.”

Although the product has yet to launch, TotalPave has already garnered plenty of recognition, taking first place in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s 2013 Breakthru business plan competition (which came with a prize package of $192,000 in cash and professional services) and the 2012 national Nicol Entrepreneurial Award.

Both have bolstered Cameron’s confidence in TotalPave, as well as in Atlantic Canada as a place to work.

“The rich ecosystem that is currently growing in Atlantic Canada is crucial to the success of any new business trying to navigate the real world,” he says. “There are going to be big things coming out of this region if we can maintain this attitude towards innovation.”

The product is undergoing heavy final testing and development; Cameron plans to bring on the first municipal partner by the spring of 2014. He is confident others will follow suit.

“Initially, our product will be marketed towards small to medium sized municipalities; however, given the scalability of the technology, TotalPave can truly become the industry leader in municipal road asset management.

“We’ve tested it, and the technology is there. There is no reason why TotalPave shouldn’t be the standard method of data collection within a few years. It’s on us to execute, and I have faith we will succeed.” •

Stephanie Porter
About Stephanie Porter

Stephanie Porter is a freelance writer and editor living in St. John’s. In 2003, she helped launch The Independent, a spirited weekly newspaper distributed across Newfoundland and Labrador, known for its investigative news and features. Stephanie was managing editor of the paper until its untimely demise in 2008. She has also worked as a reporter and writer for Downhome magazine, the Express (also now defunct), The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, picking up Atlantic Journalism Awards for her feature and news writing. Stephanie is delighted to be a regular contributor to Atlantic Business Magazine. Photo Credit: Paul Daly.

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