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Fireside chat with Sumithra Jagannath, President at Zed Digital

Who is Sumithra Jagannath?

Located in Columbus OH, Ms. Jagannath is a Software Engineer and a McGill University post graduate in Computer Science. She is the Owner of ZED Digital, a data aggregation and Internet of Things firm based in Columbus, Ohio. She is a pioneer in technology research. She invented the first invisible web search engine in 1998 before the term Invisible Web was coined. She developed and launched the first Transportation as a Service platform in 2017 when TaaS was just a buzz word.

More recently she has successfully launched the first Be In be Out mobile ticketing solution for public transit – a feat that even very large fare collection equipment providers have not achieved. This Internet of Things based hardware and software solution enables contactless payment validation and check-in with the phones in your pockets. She had the foresight for touchless solutions even before COVID 19 pandemic created the need for contactless transactions.

Prior to her business career, Ms. Jagannath served as professor of software usability at Concordia University graduate school in Montreal, Canada. Although a very busy business leader, she is a voracious reader who connects key knowledge elements across multiple domains to continually assimilate new ideas and solutions. Her ability to quickly see the big picture, and to understand the potential business value of nascent ideas is extraordinary.  

An inventor of several patent pending technologies, her work has been mentioned in leading publications such as American DBE Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, London Times and The Hindu Business Line. She was awarded the Innovative Solutions Award by Metro Magazine for her work in Mobility as a Service and Internet of Things for public transit. She was named Technology Leader of the Year in 2018 at the Ohio Asian Awards, was as a winner of Smart 50 Business Awards in 2017 and a recipient of Biztech Awards from Columbus Business First in 2016. She was elected to the Who’s Who of entrepreneurs and Oser au Feminin, a French publication of powerful women in business. Through her career, Ms. Jagannath has led technology teams based in Canada, India, USA and South Africa

She is an invited speaker notably as keynote at OSU Fisher College of Business, Ohio Department of Transportation, American Public Transportation Association, MaaS Market Conference, ACT Emerging Mobility Summit, Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council, COMTO National Conference.

Volunteer and Civic Experience

Sumithra actively works in the Columbus community without much fanfare and has contributed her time and over $100,000 to local charities in Columbus. She works with Asha Ray of Hope to aid battered South East Asian women. She volunteers digital marketing and website solutions to Lifetown Columbus, an organization that teaches life skills to autistic children from Columbus city schools. She is on the Web Development Board of Advisors at Franklin University. Over the last 2 years served as board member of Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio. She was on the executive committee and is the marketing chair for COMTO Columbus chapter (Conference of Minority Transportation Officials) assisting small minority owned businesses to obtain business opportunities with Government agencies. She has recently been appointed to their Steering Committee by The Metro Schools, Columbus.

What’s the story behind Zed Digital?

ZED Digital is a leading provider of data aggregation and analytics company. For the past 25 years we have been helping businesses build search applications to aggregate searchable databases. We specialize in delivering real-time data to software systems using our data aggregation platform and touchless sensor technology.

Closerlook Search® is our flagship real-time data aggregation engine that combines data from multiple data sources and integrates it into one dashboard for easy visualization. Ideal for Smart Cities, it makes large amounts of data accessible on your platform and uses interactivity to create a distinct experience for each user in real-time for decision-making.

Driven by smart phone applications, our sensor technology enables contactless payment and authentication solutions while the phone remains in your pocket! This cutting-edge technology delivers real-time data to our data aggregation platforms to deliver key analytics.

Our social distance and crowd monitoring sensors enhance public health and safety in public places, events, airports, public transit and large gatherings. Our Internet of Things payment sensors integrated with mobile payment apps provides a hands free payment transaction processing kiosk for public transportation, airports, banks, event ticketing, retail stores, hospitals, doctor’s clinics, spas, hair salons and more. Just walk in and walk out while your transaction is processed with the phone in your pocket.

During the pandemic, ZED’s touchless technology helped numerous underprivileged, women and essential workers get to work and stay safe while riding public transit. The touchless technology helped women who do not own a car to get to and from work in a safe manner during the pandemic. This technology helped them gauge their travel time and safety in real-time and has helped job retention during the pandemic. This technology helps avoid line-ups while boarding the bus, and keeps drivers and riders safe. Riders can monitor the crowd and social distancing status on the bus in real-time so they can stay safe prior to boarding and during their ride. This technology helps find the bus schedules and see the bus in real-time on a map so riders can gauge their travel time.

ZED’s Awards & Recognitions

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

The most difficult part of starting a business is funding. We started as an R&D firm to develop a data aggregation platform. We have been self financed since the start by balancing consulting contracts with R&D work. Our consulting work assisted in us remaining self financed to date despite the deep R&D history of our company.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

We have remained a pioneer through the changing times and technologies in the past 25 years. We have reinvented our technologies ever 3-5 years in order to stay relevant.

What is your vision for the future of Zed Digital?

We would like our smart data technologies to enable powering smart environments to enhance public safety in a post COVID world. We are currently working on powering smart buses, smart events and theme parks, smart office buildings.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Take a deep breath, you will get through this if you build confidence. This is the perfect time for new innovations that will make you more relevant for the future. Utilize the valuable opportunity created by the Pandemic to disrupt the industry with your innovations.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business

Data aggregation for Invisible Web, Internet of Things sensor technology creates smart real-time environments and delivers real-time data for decision making.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

Crossing the Chasm, Malcom Gladwell, Mastering the Rockefeller habits.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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