Clean technology that makes a difference

Kamal Hassan, chief executive of Skymeter Corp., is in London, England, pounding the pavement in search of investors. The Canadian road-metering firm developed a product that can revolutionize the way cities charge motorists to park and drive, and with a recent listing among Canada's top 10 emerging clean technology companies to watch, Skymeter is ready to take its product to the masses.
"You've got water meters, you have electricity meters and we are a vehicle meter, such that it allows pay per use with a vehicle just like you have pay per use with utilities," Mr. Hassan says. "It could be pay per use roads, pay per use parking, pay per use insurance."

The company of eight employees developed a technology that uses GPS to trigger a small electronic meter fitted to the car and automatically sends the charges to the driver's account. The concept of charging works the same as automatic toll-road systems, which many people are already familiar with. However, the GPS technology is more versatile and enables the meter to charge according to zone or kilometre driven.

"The reason we have road shortages is because of how we pay for them," he says. "Isn't it a little bit fairer to actually have the people who use something pay for it rather than just asking the taxpayer to pick up the tab?" Mr. Hassan says the technology has financial-grade accuracy and in recent tests by Cisco Korea did not overcharge once. The ability for cities to charge for road use could revolutionize road systems and take the onus off taxpayers, he says.

Skymeter has attracted $3-million in capital from individual investors in Canada, the United States, Britain, Singapore and Spain, and $1.5-million from the Ontario's Investment Accelerator Fund. Mr. Hassan is seeking further investors in London, a city that already charges for downtown road.

The funds will be used to establish small scale demonstration projects to attract big contracts. By the end of this year, Skymeter will have rolled out its first project in Canada, a less controversial use of its technology for parking in downtown Winnipeg. The GPS metering technology won the company the honour of being named in Corporate Knights' Next 10 Emerging Leaders list for 2009.
Skymeter Corp.
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