Win $1,000 for driving safely

Marina Boyle, Features editor

Students and other members of the Erie community can win big money for driving safely with a new initiative launched by EriePhi.
EriePhi is a data-driven startup that has teamed up with Mercyhurst interns to offer an app that logs driving ability and rewards Erie’s safest driver with a $1,000 award each month.

Shashaanka Ashili, Ph.D., is the founder of EriePhi. As the brains behind this new app, he recruited Mercyhurst students to help him with the project.

One such student is Daniel Bahntge, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Data Science. Bahntge helped to devise the “3 miles, 30 days, $1,000” competition.

The project’s core aim is to reduce traffic-based accidents on Erie roads by providing an app that monitors your driving and alerts you to your safe and unsafe behaviors.
“We all think we are good drivers, but it is the world of data that can really tell. With our product you can track your driving and identify the areas you can improve on,” Ashili said. “We come up with a score between zero and 100, and the higher the score, the better the style of driving you are exhibiting.”

EriePhi particularly wants to promote this initiative to students, because although anyone can win the $1,000, it could be particularly useful for a student to put toward their education.

The daily score is averaged to find the monthly winner. The app does not look for demographics and is simply linked to your phone number so as to protect privacy. However, to be eligible you must drive for a minimum of 3 miles per day to be given a score per trip.

Bahntge was first introduced to the project when Ashili pitched the idea to Mercyhurst professors.
“What drew me to this initially was knowing that the community would be engaged. I wanted to implement what I was learning and generate new ideas. I know how close-knit Erie is, and for me this was a chance to give back,” Bahntge said.

As well as helping individual drivers, this business-to-consumer product is really focused on making Erie roads safer for everyone. Anyone can go onto and download the app for free.

The data that is collected generates an insight into your driving behavior in the form of your score. The data is flushed out periodically to protect privacy, once the information is synthesized.

“In the world of our data everywhere and hearing about companies like Facebook selling our information to this person and the next, our app empowers consumers to make their own decisions with their information and sell it on if they wish,” Ashili said.

His greatest goal is to see how this project can bring the community together. “We have engaged local businesses and Mercyhurst students and will be running this competition for four months. My aim is to get more and more people involved including students that can bring their own ideas and apply their skills.”

This competition will reward anyone who makes the effort to drive safely and could really help someone who needs a financial boost. Essentially you can be rewarded for doing something that you do every day regardless – driving in a way that looks out for others.

Ashili concluded by expressing his excitement and hopes of seeing students downloading the app to win big money.

“When I see Erie I see all the ingredients needed for an ideal location – local businesses, awesome community, invested people. We want to keep engaged with the community as we go forward. The most exciting part is bringing together all the stakeholders and trying to build a global brand from right here in Erie. That’s what keeps me going every day.”