A highways technology company which has amassed a huge library of data about the UK’s road network has secured a £2.7m investment from BGF to further expand its ground-breaking ‘roadscape’ services.
Gaist captures and analyses continuous, high-definition imagery – 900 times the detail of Google Maps – about road conditions and the highways network. The company has developed this into revolutionary and IP-rich proprietary software, which can be imported into the asset management systems of highways network operators, local authorities, mapping companies, major utilities and other blue-chip firms.
The company has been working closely with the Department of Transport to develop a smarter approach to the identification, management and repair of potholes. Its services are helping improve the country’s vital infrastructure through projects such as PotholeSpotter, as well as using its data to enable digital inspections.
Gaist has collected more than 1.5 billion megabytes of imagery over the past 10 years, including the entire classified road network in England, with more roads now being added. Its machine learning research, smart algorithms and AI capability is now being used to analyse all roadscape information in the UK.
These capabilities position Gaist at the forefront of the digital mapping market, where growth opportunities are being driven by the new-breed of autonomous vehicle makers and drone suppliers. The market for the so-called ‘splines’ or digital maps used by driverless cars is expected to be worth $24.5 billion by 2050.
The company’s technology, known as HighwayView, and expertise have been attracting attention from countries that want to better maintain, understand and improve their own highway systems, including in the Middle East and Asia.
Gaist’s team of directors including founder and CEO Steve Birdsall, managing director Paula Claytonsmith, director of innovation and research Stephen Remde, will use the investment to accelerate its roadscape information and machine learning research within HighwayView, and expand its teams to support the growth in customers across multiple sectors and countries.
Steve Birdsall, founder and CEO of Gaist, said: “Domestic demand for our services continues to grow. At the same time, we are delighted to see our AI-driven technology gain international recognition. Both of these areas represent significant opportunities.
“While we continue to focus on working with Highways Departments, we are increasingly working with private sector organisations and utility companies who have never before been able to access the deep learning analysis that we are able to provide.
“To date, we have self-funded investment into the company and in collecting and productising our data sets. Bringing BGF on board as a non-controlling investor will allow us to accelerate our growth plans and respond to the growing demand for our services and expertise.”
BGF investor Pinesh Mehta said: “Improving our roads has been a burning issue in recent months, but there is also a growing and longer-term requirement – from both the public and private sectors – for access to accurate and detailed data to better understand the behaviour and utilisation of our road networks.
“Gaist is at the forefront of this mapping technology, services and expertise, and has created a scalable business with a reputation for innovation and delivery. We are delighted to be backing Steve and the team as they implement their ambitious UK and international growth plans.”