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Meet the team: Gareth Carter, Insight Team Leader

1) What’s your career with Clearview Intelligence been like so far?

I have joined the company in the last 6 months as Insight Team Leader. Insight is our Data Intelligence Platform, which is used by ITS professionals to understand the data gathered across their network. It pulls in data from various sources and produces reports that allows our clients to understand the use of their roads or car parks. Historically, Clearview Intelligence was a hardware provider; we developed the very first electronic traffic counter vehicle counting technology, but the hardware is only useful if you can understand the data generated by it. This is where Insight comes in, it takes the raw data from the hardware and translates into meaningful intelligence.

My role involves maintaining and growing our team of developers who work on the Insight platform. The team is made up of specialist developers and includes testers who write scripts designed to test the new features. We also have infrastructure specialists as we handle very large volumes of data and need to ensure an uninterrupted supply of data to our clients. I look after this team; working with them on the coding, providing training and support, and recruiting new members as the team continues to grow.

In the previous meet the team blog my colleague Tessa described how she manages the team of engineers to make sure the hardware works and data from this hardware reaches our servers. My team looks after the next step—after the data has reached our servers. We work to make sure the data reaches our clients in a meaningful format. In this way we share a similar focus on delivering accurate and reliable data to our clients.

2) What does a typical day in the office include?

The Insight team work within a SCRUM framework. This is used to make sure that the software development we do meets the needs of our clients and Insight is improved in regular increments. We work inside sprints, which are two week periods where we work to deliver certain new features. Within each sprint we have a daily stand-up meeting at 9:05 am. This is a 15-minute meeting where every member of the team says what they are working on that day and highlights any issues they are facing. After this the team go on to work on their allocated tasks.

The team is self-organising so we may get together in small groups to discuss a new feature where we decide who will do what. We encourage collaboration and often work in pairs to work through new features. At the end of a sprint we release what we have done to a staging environment where the software will undergo further testing before it goes out to our clients as part of a product update.

This way of working segments the software development into manageable chunks so we deliver shippable code every 2 weeks. We also work closely with our clients so we know that the features we are developing are what they actually need.

3) What’s the most rewarding element of your job?

I enjoy seeing when we have accomplished new tasks and deployed new features onto the live system. It undergoes very rigorous testing before it goes live. So when it reaches this point we are certain we have accomplished what we set out to do and it is working well. I find this very rewarding.

Also rewarding is working for a company that develops both hardware and software. This is an unusual opportunity for a developer as often a company will only deliver software. At Clearview I’m able to talk to the firmware engineers regularly. They can explain what they are doing and we can ensure there is good synergy between the software and hardware. Insight is delivered as part of a combined solution and because we are responsible for multiple elements of that solution, there is real ownership. We deliver the installation, the hardware, and the portal to manage that solution. This means we have more accountability and a greater understanding of how things work and what the client needs. Where we can’t offer every part of a solution, Insight can receive feeds from hardware not made by Clearview. In this way it acts as an Internet of Things portal and gives the client the best of both worlds.

4) What’s the most challenging part of your job?

We deliver a service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The data is of critical importance to our clients so it needs to be accurate and reliably available. Delivering a service that is always-on can be challenging. There are external factors on the internet that could impact this service, but my team work hard to prevent this happening. To ensure our clients receive their data we will schedule system updates out of hours and do everything we can to make sure the client can access the data when they need it.

5) What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at Clearview Intelligence?

I’ve learnt how critical and valuable traffic data is. This information has to be very accurate. I would have thought that the difference between 100 and 101 cars wouldn’t matter, but it really does.

I’ve also come to appreciate the importance of real-time data. Especially in parking where you need instant updates. Knowing that there was a space in a car park an hour ago is useless. As a user you need to know if there is a space at the time you reach the car park and are deciding whether to enter it. This poses interesting challenges for us to coordinate our entrance and exit vehicle detection, bay sensors, communication of data from these sensors, and variable messaging signage all in real-time.

6) What are you currently working towards?

We have a product development roadmap that we are working within, so we know what is coming well in advance. There is one particularly exciting project coming up that will make our parking solution even more powerful. I can’t say too much at the moment but we will be extending what can be done with the data we collect, which will be very exciting.

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