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Metro Innovation: Music City Center adopts
VUSE Prof's wayfinding app by startup Ziiio
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METRO Nashville's Music City Center has adopted the Ziiio mobile wayfinding app for those who might get lost amid MCC's 1.2MM square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

Ziiio's MCC app quietly went live earlier this month in the Apple store, and was formally introduced by Mayor Karl Dean during a press conference at the MCC, this morning.

The Ziiio app's development has been led by the startup's founder, Jules White, Ph.D., a 35-year-old assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering. The app functions on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch; and, on Android-powered devices, with the app available via GooglePlay.

White developed the IP for the app at Vanderbilt, and then secured from Vanderbilt a global exclusive license for all fields, he told VNC.

Mayor Dean

Today's announcement seems intended to spotlight further Nashville's pursuit of improved government effectiveness, and leadership among the nation's most innovative cities.

Mayor Dean is also credited with providing sustained momentum for completing the MCC convention center, which opened to the public 18 months ago. Mayor Dean recently halted efforts to advance planning for a new "AMP" bus rapid-transit system for urban Nashville.

Through his Executive Order 43, the Dean Administration six months ago launched an Open Data initiative. Just a month earlier, the Mayor established the city's first Office of Innovation to help Metro executives and other employees develop innovative capacity and pursue solutions for improving government operations and services.

Meanwhile, technology startups leveraging beacon technology and/or the closely associated concept of IoT -- the "Internet of Things" -- are proliferating.

In addition to Ziiio, there are in Nashville, among others: BKON Connect, a startup beacon hardware provider owned by tech entrepreneur Richard Graves, Chris Blanz and Leigh Fogle; ComputeCycles, driven by relocated entrepreneur Van Simmons; and, BLEON, recently launched by Mark Filaroski and initially targeting the asset-management space.

Further innovation initiatives could lie ahead for Metro Nashville Davidson County government.

Jules White

Within the past 18 months, both inventor-entrepreneur White and Mayor Dean's Co-Chief Innovation Officer, Yiaweh Yeh, were involved in different ways in a San Francisco-based Code for America (CFA) initiative, dubbed the Multi-City Innovation Campaign (MCIC), one goal of which is the diffusion of innovative technologies.

According to information online, through the collaborative MCIC, Nashville has planned to join with Vanderbilt University and with the cities of Palo Alto, Boston and Raleigh to pursue a multi-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for building local innovation capacity in the form of tech platforms, talent and services. Seattle-based datatech player Socrata is also mentioned in earlier, related documents online as a partner in the original effort.

Though that group received no NSF funding in an initial outing, VNC understands the group is ontrack to compete in NSF's second round, possibly with more partners aboard. Officials declined to provide further details.

One possible longer-term result of the CFA initiative is the creation of a marketplace for offerings that enhance innovation in the public sector. CFA has already launched an accelerator.

Though Ziiio, based here and chartered as a Delaware company, is actively pursuing the Hospitals market as its priority commercial focus, it donated to MCC its tech solution and its services for positioning 62 beacon units within the MCC, said White.

BKON donated its beacon hardware for the MCC project, White said.

The project required no MCC expenditures, and afforded Ziiio a use-case associated with a massive, complex facility, White told VNC.

With Ziiio in-place, the navigational system is now an asset that MCC will market to its prime target audience: meeting planners nationally and internationally, according to Mary Brette Clippard, MCC marketing and PR manager.

Metro Co-Chief Innovation Officer Yiaweh Yeh confirmed that, after receiving information regarding MCC's problem-slash-innovation-opportunity he realized that White technology might represent a solution, and brought the parties together.

Yeh and fellow Co-Chief Kristine LaLonde provide support to Metro departments whose leaders are seeking innovative ways to address current and emerging problems and opportunities, LaLonde recently told VNC.

Among related Metro efforts: An annual Metro Innovation Fellows program, through which teams from four selected Metro departments are provide support for pursuing possible Metro funding for the teams innovation proposals.

Ziiio is differentiated by its geopositioning and navigational capacities from virtually all other wayfinding technology offerors in the sector, said White. He cited SmartIndoor, Toronto, as a direct competitor. VNC

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Tags: Android, beacon, BKON Connect, Chris Blanz, ComputeCycles, conventions, Google Play, government, iBeacon, information technology, intellectual property, iTunes, Jules White, Karl Dean, Kristine LaLonde, Leigh Fogle, licensing, Mark Filaroski, Mary Brette Clippard, Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County, Music City Center, optio labs, Richard Graves, SmartIndoor, Socrata, software, tourism, Van Simmons, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, Yiaway Yeh, Ziiio

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