In September, GEWI will be 20 years old and its core product, TIC, will be 15.
The founders of GEWI, Hagen Geppert and Karl Will, will be celebrating together with their employees and customers located all over the world. After all, GEWI now consists of three companies, GEWI Europe based in Germany, GEWI North America based in Texas and GEWI Asia Pacific in Singapore. The company also has offices in Great Britain. The headquarters are located in Bernburg.
A set-up such as this was something Geppert and Will would never have dreamed of 20 years ago. Back then, both of them worked in the Staßfurt television factory. After the fall of the iron curtain, neither of them really knew what was going to come of the factory so television technician Geppert and testing and control engineer Will decided to go it alone and set up GEWI in their own front rooms. They had no office, no employees and began to develop new television components.
From the television factory, they had been assigned with a task which led them to one of the state’s research groups. Together with broadcasting company WDR, television manufacturer Bosch and the police, they developed solutions to improve traffic information for motorists. “As a result of this, we got an insight into the traffic information processing market,” remembers Geppert. This is where the idea to develop a piece of software for the collection, recording, processing and distribution of the latest traffic information came from in 1996. Geppert and Will speak of “real time traffic information”, combinations of which could also lead to new information. This information is transferred via a number of channels such as the internet, mobile phones, digital television, satellite navigation systems or PDAs. The first customer for this kind of technology was the radio station “Antenne Thüringen”. Nowadays, not only do all MDR radio stations work with TIC, but also a large number of radio stations in Austria, Switzerland and other stations represented in the European broadcasting union.
Geppert uses the example of a road traffic accident to explain the path of the traffic information through TIC. “Police officers who are called to the scene of an accident enter the information manually and then send it to their respective traffic reporting office. From here, the information is then entered into the TIC system in coded form. A notification is then shown to the user, such as a radio station, automatically. The notification appears within a matter of seconds.” At the same time, the software helps to process information so that it can be seamlessly introduced to the format of the programme and its journalistic style. Once finished, the processed accident notification is displayed on the screen where the presenter can read it out. “As well as being displayed on a screen in the radio station studio, the notification can also be sent to satellite navigation systems, smartphones or commercial online services,” explains Will.
The company achieved its breakthrough in 2001 when the Bavarian police service began using TIC. This was so successful that other federal states wanted to follow suit and work with TIC. The police services of all 16 federal states have been GEWI customers since 2005. In 2004, the market in North America was opened up through cooperation with the American satellite navigation mapping company NAVTEQ. Today, GEWI is considered a global leader for solutions transmitting real time traffic information directly to vehicles. “We can gather, process and distribute traffic information like no other company,” says Geppert.
This is something that is valued by 125 customers worldwide which Geppert divides into four groups. Group one contains radio stations and group two is the police service in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The third group consists of commercial service providers who distribute higher-quality information in return for a fee. These include providers of digital mapping and satellite navigation unit manufacturers such as NAVTEQ, TomTom and Garmin. Partnerships are maintained with BMW and Audi. The fourth group consists of other authorities and agencies, including road construction authorities, transport ministries and traffic information computer centres.
The latest version of the software, now the fourth generation of TIC, can do more than simply process traffic information. The focus still remains on traffic, but now indirectly associated data such as environmental or medical information can now also be processed. “The aim of this is to open up new areas of application and new markets,” says Geppert. “We are getting more and more involved in the traffic management market.” 25 GEWI employees currently work in this area, more than double that of ten years ago.
Twelve of these employees solely focus on the further development of the software. According to CFO Will, company turnover has also doubled to € 2.5m. The fathers of the TIC system exhibit at international trade fairs three of four times a year. This year, they are travelling to Malaysia in April, to the USA in May and, just like last year in Orlando, to the ITS World Congress for Intelligent Transport Systems which is taking place this year in Vienna.
GEWI Europe GmbH & Co. KG
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