Bentley Expands Transportation Portfolio with INRO Acquisition

Changing traffic patterns from COVID, ridesharing, scooters, e-bikes make traffic simulation technology startups hot acquisition targets.

Bentley Systems is on a roll. The company recently announced the acquisition of INRO, developer of multimodal transportation planning, traffic simulation and mobility visualization software, based in Montreal, Canada. INRO is Bentley’s third acquisition of the year. Terms of the INRO acquisition were not announced.

The news comes on the heels of an even bigger acquisition in multimodal transportation simulation and planning: the $100 million acquisition of Remix by Via, which was announced in March.

INRO was founded by Michael Florian back in 1976. Florian has quite an impressive resume. He holds a Doctor of Engineering Science in Operations Research from Columbia University with specialization in network modeling and optimization methods used in transportation planning.

Florian, who founded the Center for Transportation Research in Montreal in 1973, is also Professor Emeritus at the Transportation Research Center and the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research at the University of Montreal. He’s also published more than 150 articles in scientific journals on transportation and operations research and has received many awards.

The extent of Florian’s knowledge in the transportation industry and having customers in more than 80 countries says a lot about INRO, and it’s no wonder that Bentley acquired the company.

As far as we’re concerned, this is a score for Bentley and its user base. Florian seems to think his company is in good hands too, stating in the Bentley press release, “Bentley is a recognized leader in transportation across the infrastructure lifecycle from planning and design to heavy civil construction and road network management. My colleagues and I are very excited to join Bentley and to help realize the vision shared by thousands of cities and urban regions throughout the world to improve their sustainability and quality of life.”

INRO’s products include Emme, a multimodal transportation planning system for urban, regional and national transportation forecasting; Dynameq, a vehicle-based traffic simulation platform for city-wide traffic planning; and CityPhi, a mobility visualization solution providing data visualization and visual analytics of large-scale mobility and geospatial datasets.

Here are some of the key features of each of INRO’s products.

Emme Software

Emme is a multimodal transportation forecasting system for planning the urban, regional and national movement of people.

For those of us who don’t work in the transportation industry, multimodal transportation means transportation routes that use multiple modes of transportation—say, bikes, buses and cars traveling on the same route.

Emme enables users to map, edit and compare planning scenarios to help them make informed planning decisions. In addition, Emme features at-a-glance scenario comparisons and network differences to help users make data clear and actionable. Users can also specify transport model applications using a library of 100+ tools for traffic and transit assignments, comprehensive analysis, network and matrix calculators, demand adjustments, choice model components, data management and more.

Emme also has what’s called Emme Scenes, a 3D interactive and animated mapping framework that gives users a dramatic way to view, explore and analyze data in travel models. With Emme Scenes, users can create animations across time or between planning scenarios to help them understand regional mobility patterns at scale, or playback time-based models.

There are a slew of other capabilities, including the ability to:

  • Automate models, maps and workflows
  • Automate model workflows or full travel models with API access to any tool
  • Customize maps and charts and automate reporting
  • Work natively with network, matrix and scenario data
  • Build Modeler tools with customized front ends
  • Monitor and audit model runs, as well as deploy complete planning applications and models as code, with no user interface required

Emme is ideal for travel demand forecasting, transit and travel planning, and monitoring pedestrian, bike and active transport activity.

Emme is optimized for 64-bit computing, high-performance CPUs and discrete graphics (GPU).

Emme in action.


Another popular solution by INRO is its Dynameq software for vehicle-based traffic simulation and dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) that enables users to create traffic simulations for city planning. Dynameq provides scalability from a single congested corridor to an entire city.

In addition, Dynameq has a 3D, 360° simulation playback to help bring clarity to traffic simulations, from individual vehicles to bottlenecks to route diversion on parallel corridors.

Users can also illuminate vehicle route choices in just a few clicks to help them understand how traffic patterns change across a city.

Users can also explore future scenarios and run demand scenarios at 10, 20 or 30 years out.

Dynameq’s dynamic user equilibrium (DUE) routing reflects how drivers make decisions based on day-to-day learning and experienced travel times by anticipating congestion on alternative routes. The application is optimized for 64-bit computing, high-performance CPUs and discrete graphics (GPU) to enable users to work with larger simulations and more heavily congested networks.

Dynameq is ideal for citywide planning, construction planning, tolling, transit, improving traffic flows, and freeway or active traffic management.


Last but not least is INRO’s City Phi visualization software, which enables companies to bring their cities to life with animations, insights and analytics. With CityPhi, users can produce data visualizations and interactive animations, as well as gain insightful analytics about mobility and location. These data visualizations can help engage stakeholders and enable them to make better planning decisions.

CityPhi offers users an interactive and high-performance experience, enabling them to explore time, space and motion with interactive animations that stay responsive at scale.

Additionally, CityPhi provides ways for users to work with disaggregate data interactively—to animate, extrude, filter, color and more. Users can also obtain scale and motion in their data with immersive visualizations and use visual analytics to measure and produce quantitative results interactively.

INRO customers include Toronto Transportation Services City of Toronto, AECOM, Transport for London and Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT).

The Maricopa Association of Governments is using Dynameq to assign and simulate trip chains from its existing disaggregate travel activity-based model (ABM). The organization plans to use Dynameq further to link travel behavior choices, such as departure time, route choice and mode choice, with congested network conditions to better reflect real-world dynamics in the model system.

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

The City of Edmonton in Edmonton, Alberta, one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada is also leveraging Dynameq citywide for traffic modeling to help with planning and operations. The city is using Dynameq to run citywide traffic simulations to conduct multiple operational planning studies in support of the city’s Transportation Master Plan and its holistic view of transport as an interconnected, multi-modal system.

We are not sure how long these products will be available as stand-alone items, as Bentley plans to implement into its own transportation solutions. However, through this acquisition, Bentley hopes to strengthen its portfolio for the transportation industry by enabling customers to create digital twins. “Combining the capabilities of INRO’s advanced traffic and vehicle simulation with Bentley’s passenger and pedestrian simulation and civil design software, including CUBE, Streetlytics, Legion, and OpenRoads, places Bentley in a strong position to deliver comprehensive mobility digital twins of multimodal transportation systems at urban, metropolitan, regional, and national scale,” said Bentley in a press release.

With population growth and advances in transportation, such as electric and autonomous cars, Bentley will benefit from the brainpower of Florian to help tackle these upcoming changes.

This acquisition also amps up Bentley’s ability to compete with the competition. Remix offers an impressive transportation platform to help users understand existing conditions and gain traffic and mobility insight. The fact that INRO was recently acquired by Via for $100 million speaks highly of the desirability for traffic simulation technology.

Either way, we think teaming up with Florian is a score for Bentley, especially if it makes for safer, more bike- and pedestrian-friendly sustainable cities.