Legacy meets Technology

Legacy meets Technology: Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Newton, MA, Caliper Corporation, is a tech-giant in the development of geographic information systems (GIS) and transportation software. Recognized as a leading consulting and R&D provider offering professional services in quantitative management consulting, transportation, and decision support systems development, Caliper software products are supported with extensive technical services in GIS applications and training, database development and software customization. Moreover, Caliper’s software, TransCAD, is the first and only Geographic Information System (GIS) designed specifically for use by transportation professionals to store, display, manage, and analyze transportation data.

The beginning of this journey started with Howard Slavin and his collaborators developing TransCAD. In developing TransCAD, Caliper sought to embrace and incorporate various research advances in the field of GIS, including an early version of an algorithm devised by Evans, S P. in 1976. TransCAD was first released as a MS-DOS-based transportation GIS package in 1985. The software enjoyed considerable success in the US during the 1990s and is now the dominant software for transportation planning in the United States.

Because Caliper had created an easy-to-use mapping and GIS interface as part of TransCAD, they decided to release Maptitude, a powerful mapping tool for business users who are not GIS professionals but who still need to utilize location intelligence.  As part of this pivot, Caliper was the first company to provide a comprehensive nationwide dataset of US Census demographics and geographical data (such as tract boundaries) as individual and seamless layers, integrated with a GIS interface. Such integration included tools such as the intuitive and unprecedented Map My Own Data Wizard.

The most effective solution for business mapping

In the early 1990s, Slavin noticed a disconnect between the rapidly increasing processing power of desktop PCs and the expensive, specialized hardware being used for political redistricting in the USA. Caliper had been producing mapping software for tasks like transportation planning and market analysis, but the company saw an opening. Slavin originally planned to market the company’s standard mapping software for redistricting, but he soon realized that a modified product tightly tailored to the needs of groups drawing lines on a regular basis would do even better, and Maptitude for Redistricting was born. At first, the company sold it to groups such as the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Committee that wanted to check if the lines drawn by politicians were biased against the constituencies they represented. Over the ensuing years, Maptitude became the industry standard for redistricting.

Today, Maptitude is the most effective solution for business mapping combining ease of use, broad functionality, and valuable datasets the value of which alone greatly exceeds the price of the software. With the lowest price for a professional mapping application, Maptitude provides unlimited geocoding, flexible pin mapping, drive time bands, and a variety of route planning and territory tools that meet the varied needs of organizations, at an affordable price for even the smallest businesses. It has tens of thousands of users who can be found in almost any business or organization that you can imagine from Fortune 50 companies through to mom and pop shops and the local pizza delivery guy. Maptitude mapping software is used in retail, real estate, restaurants, franchises, healthcare, banking, and business in general.

The most advanced and powerful software packages

Besides developing TransCAD Transportation Planning Software and Maptitude Geographic Information System Software packages, Caliper, over the years, also developed TransModeler Traffic Simulation Software. Today, TransCAD and TransModeler are the best applications worldwide in their category; thousands of transportation planners and traffic engineers in more than 70 countries rely on it. Billions of dollars of public investment in transportation infrastructure have been guided by the analysis enabled by these products for transportation professionals.

TransModeler enables efficient navigation for individual road users and effective management of traffic flow and congestion mitigation on a wide area scale. It also provides a solution for effective evacuation planning and work zone management. TransModeler is a system for traffic data, asset management, and traffic simulation that is based upon a 4-D GIS database, with lane level and intersection area detail. TransModeler provides a realistic representation of traffic flows and an effective means of analyzing and improving traffic flow through network enhancements and improved traffic management.

Caliper describes TransModeler as being the world’s most advanced and powerful traffic simulator, capable of simulating large regional transportation networks at the individual vehicle level. The software simulates individual vehicles with 0.1 second fidelity; models various types of driver behavior, including aggressiveness in car-following and lane-changing; simulates pre-timed and actuated traffic signals, message signs and other intelligent transportation systems (ITS) mechanisms, including dynamic tolling of highway facilities; and can be used to analyze futuristic systems, such as autonomous, self-driving vehicles (AVs).

The continual focus on customer needs

Caliper’s constant focus on customer needs played a large role in securing the success of this legacy. Time and again, the company has proved that such a focus is the best way to grow one’s market and remain in fortuitous situations. One example demonstrating this practice’s efficacy was Maptitude becoming the obvious choice for businesses looking for a MapPoint replacement after Microsoft discontinued the MapPoint software. Complimenting the services Caliper provides, its team, thriving on being challenged and on using their expertise to imagine, innovate, and explore has always been the biggest advantage of the company. “At our global headquarters in Newton, MA, we are privileged to work with some of the best and brightest experts in transportation planning, traffic simulation, and GIS/mapping as we create cutting-edge software to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Each team member is encouraged to realize their potential, through endless learning opportunities, a culture committed to driving innovation, and a friendly and respectful work environment,” says Slavin.

Looking forward

Going ahead, in addition to expanding the user base and feature set of TransCAD and Maptitude, Caliper will continue to develop lane-level routing of individual and multiple vehicles through regional transportation networks. TransModeler will be extended to recommend and evaluate alternative lane-level routings for individual vehicles. Unlike systems that rely solely on current and/or historical conditions, the use of simulation to evaluate navigation recommendations will provide more reliable, consistent, and efficient routings. It will also provide the basis for more effective pre-planned and real time traffic management systems.

The founder

Prior to the formation of Caliper Corporation, Slavin was the Director of Marketing Research at Charles River Associates. In that position, he directed the company’s marketing research projects for clients in a wide variety of consumer and industrial markets. Early in his career, Slavin was also the Chief of the Evaluation Branch of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and served as the Chief of the Information Systems Development Branch of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation. His diverse experiences drive him to develop cutting edge mapping software for businesses and transportation planners.


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