Dec. 16, 2020
By DAN FLATT
Earlier this month, RoadMetric, an artificial intelligence (AI) powered traffic management solution, was acquired by Australian company Redflex. RoadMetric is headquartered in Jerusalem and founded by Toronto-based Rabbi David Hofstedter (shown above), with clients around the world. Rabbi Hofstedter is also the founder and CEO of the real estate and property management company Davpart Inc and is well known in Israel and beyond as the founder of The Dirshu Organization, providing scholarships to encourage Torah study.
The CJR interviewed Rabbi Hofstedter to learn more about this deal and his own unique path to success as a pioneer in the growing fields of AI and computer vision, and a community leader.
CJR: It’s not every day that we interview a rabbi about the acquisition of his technology company. Can you tell our readers about your career path and how you combined these two very different callings? How have these two aspects of your life complemented each other?
Rabbi Hofstedter: As a child of Holocaust survivors, the notion of not only living one’s life but also fulfilling one’s obligation in life was instilled in me at a very early age. This belief was reinforced during my teenage years and as a young adult studying in yeshivos. My marriage to a woman who is also a child of Holocaust survivors reaffirms our life’s mission, and that is to utilize all that has been bestowed upon us, whether financial, intellectual or any other benefits which shines G-d’s light upon the world.
I wouldn’t classify myself as a technology founder. My business involvement is primarily in real estate, as CEO of Davpart Inc. The establishment and my involvement in RoadMetric relates fundamentally to its enormous capability in protecting and saving lives.
Can you explain what RoadMetric’s technology does and how its primary customers use it?
Roadmetric is a leader in advanced vision analytics and leading-edge artificial intelligence tools which law enforcement agencies around the world use to run the full gamut of enforcement from traffic violations to security threats. Our advanced technology is a powerful tool maintaining road safety and the prevention of loss of life. Law enforcement agencies equipped with our cameras and video surveillance systems are able to track reckless driving, infractions such as speeding, running red lights and stop signs.
Municipalities can equip their buses and track any vehicles driving into bus lanes. Security forces of all kinds can track suspicious drivers and vehicles. Our cameras record the infractions, have advanced license plate reading capabilities, can upload the information and alert officers, and issue tickets immediately and seamlessly
RoadMetric has operations in both Toronto and in Israel. What have been the challenges and opportunities of building a company in these two countries?
RoadMetric’s headquarters is in Jerusalem, Israel. We do business around the world. I am located in Toronto. Certainly, the logistics challenges of maintaining quality control and our corporate culture have been enormous.
What can you tell us about RoadMetric’s acquisition by Australia’s Redflex? How did this deal come together? Will members of the RoadMetric team continue to build the product at Redflex?
The Redflex acquisition was a natural fit. We had been working with them for some time as we were integrating our systems to serve customers across North America. It became apparent that joining together would provide the best platform for RoadMetric to grow and expand to the next level.
Tell us more about your work with the Dirshu Organization.
It has been my life’s mission and passion. But if I begin to describe it, it would fill volumes. 2019-2020 was a particularly significant year for Dirshu. During the period between December and February, we celebrated the Dirshu World Siyum highlighting the enormous accomplishments of our participants. Events reaching massive crowds around the globe, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Paris, London, Manchester, Johannesburg, Newark, and many more were hosted.
The Dirshu World Siyum, in addition to providing a rallying point for our dedicated scholars, particularly those who struggle financially in spite of the generous scholarships that we provide, served as a phenomenal unifier for the Jewish people.
What advice would you give to young tech entrepreneurs building solutions with AI, Computer Vision and related technologies?
This is a new, fascinating and exciting area of business but nevertheless it is a business just the same. It is governed by the same business principles and regimen that govern all businesses.
• To learn more about RoadMetric and its recent acquisition, you can read the official press release here.
Dan Flatt is a Toronto-based entrepreneur, business consultant and recovering lawyer writing about technology and business topics for the CJR. He is the founder and “chief neighbour” of Naborino, a platform (launching soon in Toronto) that will help neighbours in residential buildings to build community with each other and access unique group buying opportunities.