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Research collaboration aims to predict cross-border wait times


Toronto, ON — A new industry/academic research collaboration is set to revolutionize the transportation of goods at border crossings by applying data science to make accurate predictions of wait times for trucks.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) and SOSCIP, in partnership with the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute (CBI), IBM and Inovex Inc., are collaborating on a project that will use big data to aggregate and analyze weather, traffic, and border wait time data so that better real-time decisions can be made in moving perishable and time-sensitive goods through the Great Lakes supply chain and across the Canada-United States border.

“This new collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to bring together our research experts at the University of Windsor with a nimble, entrepreneurial and technologically sophisticated team at Inovex to ensure that the work that we do in the lab can be translated to real-world scenarios,” said Dr. Bill Anderson, Director of the CBI.

“SOSCIP is dedicated to supporting industry-academic collaborations that leverage data science and advanced computing to drive innovation,” said Elissa Strome, Executive Director, SOSCIP. “This new collaboration between CBI and Inovex, jointly supported by CGLR and SOSCIP, provides an important opportunity to bring together the right partners to help develop a solution that has the potential to have a significant positive economic and environmental impacts for Canada and our partners in the U.S.”

International borders, where trucks are subject to immigration, customs and security inspection, can impose extreme unpredictability on travel times. While average border clearance and crossing times at major ports of entry in the bi-national Great Lakes region are now as low as 20 minutes, much longer crossing times of 60- or even 90-minutes are not uncommon.  Large buffers within shipment schedules and inventories are necessary as a result in order to mitigate the risk of uncertainty and delay. This not only imposes significant costs on shippers, receivers and carriers, but also undermines the efficiency of the Great Lakes economy, which in 2016 supported one third of the combined American and Canadian workforce, or 51 million jobs.

“Boosting the competitive edge of the Great Lakes Region and ensuring its long-term success in a world of rapid technological change presents numerous challenges for business leaders and policy-makers, but also opportunities” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO of CGLR. “Great Lakes 4.0 and this pilot project will help position the region as a global innovation leader and ensure it is positioned to compete and win in the new economy.”

CBI is teaming up with mobile application developer Inovex Inc. to access the SOSCIP cloud analytics platform, the first research-dedicated cloud environment in Canada. The team will develop a smartphone application which can predict crossing times ranging from intervals of 15 minutes to two hours, and deliver notification of border delays, road closures, and/or accidents to shippers, dispatchers, drivers, receivers and other supply chain participants so they can adjust their shipment schedules and travel plans.

The project will be delivered as a pilot under the Great Lakes 4.0 initiative, a promising initiative led by CGLR in collaboration with IBM Canada and SOSCIP that will activate stronger relationships between producers of big data and those in academia and industry that have expert knowledge and capabilities in the areas of data science, analytics, and cognitive computing.

A critical objective of Great Lakes 4.0 will be to create a collaborative environment between the public and private sectors where next generation innovations and applications can be developed in response to a number of regional and global challenges, such as building smart transportation systems and borders, shifting to a cleaner economy, sustainable food production, and adapting to a changing climate.

To ensure the Great Lakes Region has the foresight and agility to leap into and lead the next economy, as well as capitalize on the technological change and innovation that will be demanded by the digital economy and industry 4.0, Great Lakes 4.0 will also create a collaborative platform for government, business and academia in the Great Lakes to study the economic and social impacts of disruption and consider the infrastructure, workforce, and government policies and regulations that will be required to compete in the new economy.

“Inovex shares the CBI’s passion for applying new technology solutions from big data analysis and artificial intelligence to practical application in the cross-border trucking industry.  This is an ideal partnership for us to engage in a new sector and leverage the resources and expertise at CBI, SOSCIP and CGLR,” said Inovex CEO, Rohit Shanker.


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