Rekor Systems, a publicly traded company that deals mostly in automated license plate reading (ALPR) technology, has acquired the traffic analytics and crash prevention startup Waycare for US$61 million.
The deal brings together a company that gathers data on roadways with a company that turns that data into intelligence. Rekor sells cameras, as well as software connected to those cameras, that can help law enforcement find vehicles they’re looking for, measure traffic for a transportation department or even help a drive-thru restaurant offer pay-by-plate to its customers.
Waycare’s technology is about taking in things like traffic counts and vehicle speeds and combining it with other data such as weather conditions and transit information in order to create insights that public agencies wouldn’t otherwise have. In Las Vegas, the company demonstrated that law enforcement could reduce highway collisions by using its technology to find high-risk areas and then stationing patrol cars there at certain times, alerting drivers to their presence with digital signs.
Since its 2016 founding in Israel, the company has also worked with the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus, Pinellas County, Fla., the Missouri Department of Transportation and others.
Transportation aside, the move underscores the growing use of AI-powered cameras in public places. While ALPR is a very common use case, they can also be used to count vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, watch for certain events or perform facial recognition. The last use case is especially controversial given racial biases and the implications it holds for police surveillance. If cameras can be used for multiple functions across agencies, local governments might see more value in installing them — or convincing constituents that they’re worth it.
“Both companies were on an incredible journey building the infrastructure for smart cities which will benefit generations to come,” says Noam Maital, Waycare’s CEO and co-founder, in a press release. “By joining Rekor, we now have access to real-time roadway optical sensors, innovative software and enhanced data. Rekor is uniquely positioned to become a leading force in data aggregation and analysis for roadway intelligence.”
Rekor is traded on Nasdaq. It pulled in US$9.2 million in revenue in calendar year 2020, according to its last annual report.