When Chris Crosby, a seasoned leader with a knack for data-driven innovation, founded Xaqt in 2015 and took on the role of CEO, he vowed not to create another generic business intelligence and reporting platform. Instead, Xaqt built a purpose-driven solution that thrives on its capabilities for inspiring change and improvement within urban environments by leveraging existing and emerging data. “What differentiates our approach in smart city initiatives is that we look at the data of a city as an asset that can be turned into a robust set of applications that make an impact in the overall city infrastructure,” explains Crosby. “We lead the way to the heart of smart cities, which we believe is the data.”
By converting raw data sets into insights that cities can act on, Xaqt’s Smart City Engage platform has become the world’s first integrated urban intelligence and collaboration platform, which embeds the derived intelligence into actual workflows, policies, and decision-making processes of those cities. Whether it is insights derived from parking sensors, predicting traffic flows, or analyzing data that the city already has, Xaqt is exactly what smart city technologies and predictive intelligence should imply—handling all of the smart city data insights and applications effectively to make intelligence-based decisions for the benefit of citizens.
The same can be applied to smart regions, where the Smart City Engage platform can profile data that is siloed between completely different organizations and entities so that everyone can have a finger on the pulse in real time.
Harnessing a Data-Driven Powerhouse
Being at the forefront of some of the recent breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence and data science, Xaqt combines its data capabilities with the knowledge of city employees and aligns its algorithms with city priorities and outcomes through the Engage platform. In doing so, city authorities can create correlations between different data sets and then make data-driven decisions based on acquired insights.
Bringing brilliant minds and competing perspectives together in combination with valuable technological insights is what ultimately drives better outcomes for cities
Even more so, they can analyze, predict, and prevent issues that have not even occurred yet, such as potholes, parking enforcement, and even recommend crime interventions.
The platform’s easy-to-use interface features a plug-and-play dashboard that allows users to seamlessly navigate through the data and bring it to life through rich visualizations that are comprehensible to anyone. Users, particularly Mayors, can access the platform via their mobile devices, as well as share the insights within tools such as Slack, Cisco Spark, or Amazon Alexa. In the example of predicting potholes, these insights have saved cities hundreds of thousands of dollars by enabling them to implement preventative maintenance on specific road segments, resulting in longer lasting streets and happier citizens.
Another example includes the KCMO Smart City Open Access platform, which was purpose-built for a “smarter” Kansas City, MO. Essentially, it is a public platform that allows citizens and visitors to tap into the smart city data that is being generated by sensors along the streetcar line to see traffic conditions and parking availability.
Xaqt’s success comes down to having the right team and resources alongside machine learning tools to properly understand the data and the problem and then discover new insights throughout the entire process.
Xaqt fosters a culture that breathes cross-functional and multidisciplinary collaboration between various entities in order to bring the utmost value to smart cities. By partnering with academic institutions and hiring practitioners who have worked inside city governments, Xaqt has assembled a one-of-a-kind multi-core team and set of technical capabilities.
In sum, it combines the academia and practice from the outside with a highly competent in-house team of data scientists, engineers, and technologists. “Bringing brilliant minds and competing perspectives together in combination with valuable technological insights is what ultimately drives better outcomes for cities,” concludes Crosby.
Investing to Improve Lives
While some smart city solution providers are subsidizing their offerings by retaining the data and monetizing it in different ways, Xaqt looks at things differently.
In this regard, Crosby accentuates the recently spurred eagerness of city leaders to become more data-driven and their willingness to look at how data analytics can make their cities more efficient and effective. What is more, he indicates that the curiosity exists across functional departments inside the city, providing a great basis for cross-collaboration that can ultimately improve the “smartness” of a city. In order for all these cross-department initiatives to be successful, Crosby finds it critical for the projects to be something that the cities can operationalize and act on the insights. “When we build a predictive model, we look at it as a single model that can ultimately have multiple use cases,” explains Crosby. Needless to say, Xaqt is not just using technology for the technology’s sake but to understand what city authorities are trying to do with it and create a solution that improves the lives of their citizens.
"We lead the way to the heart of smart cities, which we believe is the data"
Envisioning a Smart Future for Everyone
With 2018 just around the corner, it is shaping up to be an exciting future for Xaqt. Fresh off winning a “Partners in Innovation” award from Amazon Web Services’ 2017 City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge, Crosby and the team announced a new version of the Smart City Engage platform at the Global City Teams Challenge event in D.C. last month. The new premium models connect Xaqt with data from the largest transit agencies in the U.S. to create shared insights, the goal of which is to be able to jump-start the smart city journey for any city across the country. With Xaqt’s predictive intelligence coupled with the expanded data connections, the platform is set to become a turn-key smart city solution for more than 40 million people.
Further down the line, the Xaqt CEO has revealed plans for global expansion. Having recently established a number of strategic partnerships, the goal is to deploy the Smart City Engage platform across Latin America, India, and Europe by the end of the year. “We will continue to invest in our people and platform, particularly into creating new insights that are repeatable across cities and policy engines that can have the biggest impact on the quality of people’s life,” Crosby explains. By making the platform more turnkey, as well as allowing cities to maintain control and ownership of their data, Xaqt is on its way to reaching mass adoption of smart city initiatives that are easily consumable for any city around the world, which is nothing short of unique. “I believe there is no shortage of things that you can do with technology and our goal is to make the world a smarter and better place for everyone,” concludes Crosby.