Toll Insight spoke with Joe Mullis, General Manager of Neology.
1. Tell us about the history of Neology as a company.
Neology has a longstanding history of technology innovation, spanning three decades. As an early pioneer and industry-leading RFID OEM and software developer, Neology designs and develops products used within most toll systems across the world. We have more than 15,000 toll solution devices worldwide, utilizing our best-in-class OEM hardware components of (RFID) multi-protocol readers, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) cameras, and Automatic Vehicle Classification (AVC) systems. We are also the leading technology provider of 6C passive transponders, supplying more than 130 million installed transponders that are designed, developed, and produced at our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located in San Diego, California.
In the years since, we have broadened our vision to become a unique provider of fully integrated All Electronic Tolling (AET) & Open Road Tolling (ORT) solutions, on top of ALPR, Electronic Vehicle Registration (EVR), Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI), and Vehicle Importation Control solutions around the world. The company has a long pedigree and broad experience on a global basis in the delivery, operation, and management of complex traffic management systems, especially tolling, congestion, clean air emissions, and surveillance solutions.
Neology currently has 175 employees of diverse cultures & backgrounds, with offices in Austin, TX; San Diego and Poway, CA; Hampshire, UK; and Mexico City, Mexico.
2. Today, you are transitioning from a products company to a platform company. What is driving that shift, and how will the industry benefit?
As the leading OEM of products and solutions to many integrators, agencies, and DOTs across the globe, it is our responsibility to continue to innovate today as much as ever. The company’s continuous improvement drive allows Neology to deliver ever greater performance and additional capabilities to customers and more importantly, “future proofing” of their systems for the long term.
We believe the focus today to vertically integrate our core products into our leading solutions sets us apart from our main competitors since we are not as highly dependent on third party providers, who may not share a similar philosophy to innovation as Neology. Our systems software solutions are nevertheless built on a modular, configurable and expandable architecture that allows future proofing of the systems that enable 3rd party hardware components. Therefore, we are highly motivated to design tolling solutions that allow authorities to integrate emerging technologies into their tolling solutions and to support anticipated upgrades, growth, and technology advances.
In terms of platform, it’s a little unknown secret that Neology is a minority shareholder of PASE, the leading service provider for electronic toll collection in Mexico, with annual toll revenues of US $1.6B per year. Neology developed a revolutionary dual frequency transponder product called “PASE” that combined with a leading mobile app-based Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform, which extended customers’ reach from purely toll to now include parking, transit, and gas. The success of our MaaS platform is reflected in the growth of the PASE customer base from 400K at the time of our investment to now 5.2M active customer accounts.
We are looking to take a similar approach to servicing customers in the USA. Our new Rapid Pass is a cutting edge and innovative product aimed at supporting toll with transit and other services through a traditional prepaid or credit card without the need for multiple accounts or hardware. I’m excited about the pilots we are putting in motion with one of our trusted partners in the transit space. Neology also recently launched VADO, a mobile app designed and developed to, at least initially, service toll customers with account management and processing of their toll account fees.
The PASE reference is certainly an example of the possibilities to provide end-customers with a better journey and lower cost of operation than current days’ disparate toll and transit systems.
3. What sorts of industry partnerships have you established, and how are they meant to augment your service offering?
We have had the fortunate experience to develop strong industry partnerships, where we believe the combined synergies represent real value to our customers. Neology was recently awarded a Clean Air contract in Denmark along with our Enforcement Group Partner Marston Holdings. Neology’s Clean Air as a Service (CaaS) portfolio combined with Marston Holdings services for domestic and foreign vehicles, including penalty charge noticing (PCN), vehicle database integrations and payment solutions has been very well received in Europe, and we are excited to expand our relationship with these winning solutions.
We’ve also announced a strategic partnership with Parsons to jointly pursue opportunities in the critical infrastructure, mobility and transportation markets. Again, we jointly see a need for a new alternative, particularly in the toll space, where we can pair Parsons’ ability to scale and financial strength with that of Neology’s innovative technology solutions. We believe the combined synergies make us a compelling option for agencies who have otherwise been let down by under-performing integrators.
More recently, we have looked to broaden our relationship with Cubic, who are also headquartered here in San Diego and have some very interesting pilot opportunities that we are pursuing.
4. You have also recently announced interesting academic and R&D partnerships. Please tell us about that.
We are very proud to be associated with the great people of Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and to have been working with them to establish Neology’s recently completed Transportation Research Center (TRC).
The Neology TRC is located at the TTI proving ground on the Texas A&M University‘s RELLIS Campus for designing, developing and testing mobility solutions. The facility is an open, scalable and flexible test site for new tolling and intelligent transportation system solutions.
Our research partnership agreement with the University is a long-term commitment to drive innovation for the benefit of the transportation industry as a whole. TTI and Neology have already received a number of private and public industry entities who are interested in collaboration or use of the facilities. The technologies we will forge together with TTI and other industry partners will help shape the future of mobility and connected transportation initiatives well into the future, providing growing value to our customers.
5. What is your general outlook on the tolling industry – what are the key challenges, opportunities and where are we headed in the next 3-5 years?
Looking forward, I think tolling revenue is a more reliable alternative to gas taxes. Tolls can be dedicated to ongoing maintenance on the roads they cover, preventing governments from diverting the funding. Gas taxes are routinely diverted to non-highway projects and with electric cars and more efficient vehicles, gas tax revenues will continue to shrink. As a result, Federal and State governments will look to alternative ways to supplement gas taxes through congestion pricing and road user charging models for the long term. The opportunity therefore exists for the tolling industry to leverage its back-office systems and related infrastructure to support these models and to adopt/adapt new technologies along the way.
Thank you, Neology, for sponsoring Toll Insight!