Status Awareness Systems: Leader in High-Tech Motorsport Safety System
Stephen Sims’s positive attitude and ingenuity created a Tasmanian high-tech company of global repute from his personal loss
Tucked away in an Ulverstone street in North West Tasmania is a company providing high-tech safety solutions for motor sport competitors globally. At any given moment, the team at Status Awareness Systems knows if a motorsport vehicle has flipped on its roof in South Africa or a collision is about to occur in Japan.
When Stephen Sims lost two good friends to his much loved motor racing sport, it got him thinking that better preventative measures could avert a future tragedy.
In 2010, following another serious collision at Targa Tasmania, Stephen again believed the accident could have been avoided through a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system. That same year, he co-founded Status Awareness Systems (SAS) with business partners Wayne Maxwell and Jason White. Today, their expert team of 30 full-time staff provides world class rally management systems to keep motorsport competitors and officials as safe as possible.
Their RallySafe system is a next generation technology that merges safety, timing and tracking for motorsport. A small unit is placed in a vehicle, which is connected to a cloud-based management portal, mobile apps and timing accessories. This allows for advanced vehicle-to-vehicle collision warnings, global tracking and timing features that are now used in the World Rally Championship and many other events globally.
“We’ve serviced around 150 motor sport events around the world this financial year and such is the demand for our systems that it’s hard to keep up. We have Tasmanian staff working overseas alongside multi-lingual Spanish and Dutch employees and we now have a permanent base in the Netherlands to meet the European demand. Typically there are six events occurring simultaneously.”
“It’s a busy, complex operation but we have a great team and everyone is happy to work here,” adds Stephen. “One of our younger employees is undergoing an IT traineeship. He’s just been in New Zealand and has toured around Australia for six weeks – he’s in his twenties and he loves it. We have a very broad offering for our staff. We have University of Tasmania graduates and two specialists working in different time zones on coding. We do hardware and everything in-house.”
Finding expert staff is not always easy particularly in the area of code writing. Ultimately, lives are at risk, so it’s no different from the type of code required for a heart monitor or the software on an aeroplane. The equipment has to work, and it has to do so thousands of kilometres from the Ulverstone technology hub.
The business has evolved into new fields including the development of RaceSafeH20, a communication system specifically designed for water-based activity. From water-ski competitions to jet boat racing, the in-vessel units have proven to be another in-demand product, and the company continue to seek varied applications for their cutting edge systems.
“We are proud to support local Australian suppliers and partners, and to be bringing our Tasmanian innovation to the world stage.”
While the company has provided cutting edge employment opportunities on Tasmania’s North West Coast, few locals know much about their operation. Seventy per cent of their business occurs outside Australia, 20 per cent is exported nationally, and activity in Tasmania stands at just 10 per cent. The team are typically found working busily behind the scenes at events or in front of in-house screens.
“What’s interesting is that the motorsport industry directly and indirectly employs more than three times that of the car manufacturing industry here in Australia,” says Stephen. “We feel fortunate to have made the impact we have from right here in Tasmania. I’ve flown in and out of the country a dozen times this year and every time I come home, I realise how lucky we are.”
“Moving freight worldwide is costly, particularly from Tasmania. We did consider making a move interstate to Victoria, but after crunching the numbers it was more advantageous to stay put. Victorian office space was three times higher,” says Stephen. “We weighed up the value and chose to stay here where we can enjoy the Tasmanian lifestyle on the coast.”
Find out more about Status Awareness Systems.
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