Telstra and Cab Digital Media, a Sydney-based start-up, have launched TaxiLive – a custom designed digital billboard for the rear of premium taxis. The digital platform allows safety messages and advertising to be sent to the taxis depending on their location, the time of day and even the weather.

The ‘smart’ taxi-backs use GPS enabled smart screens that Cab Digital Media connect to and remotely manage via the Telstra mobile network.

Najeeb Aftab, Co-Founder and Head of Sales and Partnerships at Cab Digital Media said, “The idea for TaxiLive was born one day when Shafiq Khan and Sajid Khan, the now Managing Director and CTO of Cab Digital, had spent an hour in traffic following an accident on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They thought, what if we could tell motorists that there was an accident and to take an alternate route? Three years later, we’re thrilled to be launching what we believe is one of the smartest digital billboards in the world.”

“The solution was originally built to display safety messaging, for example accident alerts, traffic updates and weather warnings, but we found the applications for the media and advertising industry, where you can specifically target consumers based on location or time of day, are also very advantageous,” Aftab said.

Telstra and Cab Digital Media developed the Internet of Things (IoT) solution together with Telstra sourcing and connecting the technology components. The technology solution consists of a 32-inch custom designed and built digital screens as well as the Telstra M2M Control Centre.

Martijn Blanken, Group Managing Director Customer Management and Sales, Telstra Enterprise, said, “Telstra’s IoT team has worked with Cab Digital Media’s engineering team for the last two years to co- create TaxiLive. Inside each TaxiLive is essentially an advanced computer with in-built GPS that is connected via Telstra’s mobile network. At headquarters, Cab Digital Media uses an IoT platform to remotely manage the screens.”

“We are excited to work with Cab Digital Media to create this home-grown innovation. The TaxiLive solution is a great example of how technology and IoT will continue to connect and digitise new things all around us, creating smarter cities and communities,” he said.

Cab Digital Media’s longer-term ambition is to partner with roadside authorities to share the invaluable GPS data generated from each TaxiLive unit which could contribute to future transport, infrastructure and congestion reduction initiatives.

Cab Digital Media will create new revenue streams for premium taxi services by sharing revenue from the TaxiLive units with taxi owners and operators. It proposes to provide payment to owners for installing a TaxiLive and incentives for drivers based on performance indicators such as cleanliness, good reviews and time on the road.

“With the right data, we may be able to look at things like which taxi ranks are over-populated and under- serviced to ensure better taxi availability, particularly in areas such as hospitals and locations with a higher proportion of elderly and disabled people,” said Aftab.

The first taxis fitted with TaxiLive are on Sydney roads, featuring advertising from brands including Channel 10 and Telstra. For the safety of drivers, images on the taxi-back are designed to never transition or change while a vehicle is in motion.

Cab Digital Media expects to have more than 300 cabs fitted with TaxiLive in Sydney by 1 April and 945 nationally by November 2018.

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