How ETS and Outbreaker Solutions are working together to trial a new technology in the real world
By Aaron Budnick and Joel Magalnick
At Rainforest Alberta, we believe passionately that innovation is vital to the future economic prosperity of the Province, and all the large municipalities within it, especially for Edmonton and Calgary.
A recently announced project between Edmonton Transit and Outbreaker Solutions is a particularly excellent example of how the government can best support innovative or emerging technologies and other solutions; by partnering with the innovators to give them real world data, a first customer, and vital initial exposure!
In short, Edmonton Transit Services (ETS) is partnering with local biotech company Outbreaker Solutions to install their sodium-chloride-based surfaces in a number of bus and LRT facilities across the City of Edmonton.
The technology is a compressed salt push-plate that, according to Outbreaker, “kills the majority of germs, including viruses, bacteria and fungi in just a few seconds, due to the salt crystals piercing the membrane walls of the germs, effectively neutralizing them.” The company posted about this technology in June 2020 and has been testing its pilot since.
This six-month pilot project is intended to determine the efficacy, durability and cost-effectiveness of these plates in reducing the spread of diseases. Whether or not this product works as expected, this is the perfect example of a win-win!
Edmontonians taking transit, or using transit facilities, to move around the downtown pedway system will benefit by the reduction in risk of using doors that could potentially have active virus or bacteria on them!
Anything that can assist public safety by reducing the potential transmissibility of these diseases is a win for all of us.
A local biotech company is getting valuable data to prove their technology in a real-world application. This provides them the ability to gain recognition for their technology, spread the word to other potential clients, and assuming that everything goes as planned, they may get a first customer for this technology. It is not inconceivable that this works so well that the City and other local property owners start installing this on more doors in high traffic areas.
The City of Edmonton, and ETS, are able to demonstrate leadership by simultaneously improving customer safety, which assists our local economy by increasing accessibility and mobility for people of all age and ability, as well as boosting the profile of innovators in our own backyard.
Edmonton needs more of this. The cost to ETS to participate in this pilot program was likely extremely low. The benefit to everyone involved to trial this technology might be immeasurable.
Unlike a lot of other more structured government grant and entrepreneur support programs, any government employee or agency could potentially consider implementing a project like this. The costs are almost certainly less on a per project basis than the average grant contribution, not even taking into account program overhead. The impact and real-world applicability of these projects is almost immediate once the pilot rolls out, and scales up with time if the technology works out, unlike grants that can take years to see fruition.
The City of Edmonton has committed themselves to supporting innovators numerous times, it is extremely reassuring to see an example of that happening! We, at the Rainforest, cannot wait to see more of these projects get announced, hopefully this is the first of thousands of similar projects from the City of Edmonton, the Province, and the Federal government.