Collaboration marks first step towards creating Canada’s first context-aware connected city

Steven D'Costa, Ryerson University alumnus, is among the Flybits team that created the Ottawa Nav app.

Steven D’Costa, Ryerson University alumnus, is among the Flybits team that created the Ottawa Nav app.

TORONTO, November 18, 2013 — The City of Ottawa and Ryerson University spin-off company Flybits announced today the release of a free mobile application called Ottawa Nav. The app, using the Flybits platform, connects users to municipal services and infrastructure providing relevant real-time information from construction updates to collisions or speed limit notifications in construction and school zones.

“Flybits is helping communities adopt technology that dramatically improves the quality of life,” said Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy. “The company was founded two years ago by Ryerson professor Hossein Rahnama and his students and has already gone international, making the case for building Canadian leadership supporting startups and innovation.”

“Ottawa is the first city in the world to deploy a context-aware computing strategy,” said Dr. Hossein Rahnama, Founder and CEO of Flybits. “The system senses and interprets contextual parameters—such as location, day, time, mobile and personal preferences—surrounding each individual user, delivering relevant and customized services to make the most out of their mobile experience. Ottawa Nav is launching with a focus on intelligent traffic solutions, but the same framework can be used to disseminate all useful information pertaining to Ottawa. By utilizing this powerful tool to connect city services and make them available to residents in real time, the City of Ottawa has become a pioneer in the discovery and actualization of a smarter, more connected city.”

The Ottawa Nav application maps the city into zones, associating contextual data with every location. As commuters move throughout the city, they receive useful and relevant information in real time based on their location and travel preferences.

The app’s functionality differs depending on whether the user is a driver or a passenger. While driving, the mobile app delivers relevant audible instructions to inform users of events occurring in their area of travel, including construction projects, collisions and other unplanned incidents. Ottawa Nav will also provide speed limit notifications in construction and school zones. While in passenger mode, users can tap into the City and Ministry of Transportation of Ontario’s traffic cameras to access live feeds from the traffic situation within and near their immediate location. In addition, the system’s scalability also gives the network the capability to remain current with new transportation technologies and upgrades in the future.

The Ottawa Nav application is now available for free on the Apple AppStore and Google Play for Android devices. Other platforms will become available in the future.  For more information about the Ottawa Nav app and to view a promotional video, visit

Ottawa Nav was designed and developed by Flybits Inc., a Ryerson University spin-off company and Canadian leader in context-aware intelligent mobility solutions. Flybits has collaborated with other transportation entities to create relevant and context-aware platforms.  Recently Flybits and Ryerson worked with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to create a smart internal communications system for optimizing workforce efficiency.  In 2011 Flybits and Ryerson University developed the context-aware GO Mobile app for GO Transit, the largest transit entity in Canada. The Go Mobile app has now been downloaded by more than 500,000 passengers. Flybits, also a MaRS Innovation startup company, is headquartered in the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University in Toronto, with an office in the United Kingdom located in London’s Tech City. In November 2013, Flybits was awarded the 2013 Aegis Graham Bell Award for Location Based Services. The world’s largest award in the fields of telecom, internet, media and edutainment, the Aegis Graham Bell Awards were initiated by the Aegis School of Management, the leading business school for Telecom Management in India. In 2012, MIT’s Technology Review magazine listed Rahnama as among the world’s top innovators under the age of 35 for his work with Flybits. For further information about Flybits, visit

Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 38,000 students, including 2,300 master’s and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 155,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada’s leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit


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Lauren Clegg
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Ryerson University
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City of Ottawa
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