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Staff at Big Blue, Metricell’s headquarters in Horsham (©AAH/Alan Wright)

Horsham-based telecommunications company Metricell made national headlines after launching a new smartphone application in January. Stan the App aims to make it easier to identify and report potholes, hopefully leading to improved road maintenance and repairs. AAH met Managing Director Tom Staniland to find out more… 


Metricell was founded in 2007 and began life in an office in Sanford House, Medwin Walk, Horsham. It was a time when most businesses saved their data on their own computers and hard drives, but Metricell recognised the potential of cloud technology. Rather than using their own servers, clients could save data on the cloud, which could be accessed anywhere in the world via the internet. Cloud computing was still a relatively new concept (it wasn’t until 2011 that Apple launched iCloud) and Metricell’s willingness to embrace web-based infrastructure attracted clients.


 In 2010, the company made a leap forward when T-Mobile and Orange UK merged to create Everything Everywhere (now EE).Tom said: ‘T-Mobile and Orange had their own systems for storing data about their network coverage and you couldn’t simply merge the two by sharing spreadsheets. We proposed storing all the information in a centralised data warehouse through the cloud, which staff on both sides could access. The project involved significant coordination, but it worked and gave us our big break.’  

‘Now, there are many more cloud providers including Google, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) and it’s the normal way to store data, as it’s the easiest way for information to be analysed and utilised across and organisation.’


Metricell was founded by Dr Stephen Mockford and Philip Caiger, with just a handful of employees in the early years. Tom Staniland joined the team in 2010 and the business moved to Barclays House, Bishopric. It wasn’t long though before further expansion meant that the company needed a much larger premises. Rather than leasing, Metricell bought a unit on the Foundry Lane Industrial Estate and embarked on an extensive renovation project. A former warehouse used by a chemicals company was transformed into what is affectionately known as ‘Big Blue’, incorporating offices, conference rooms, social areas with arcades, a pool table, table tennis and air hockey, a café and a gym. 

Today, the business has some 110 employees. As well as its Horsham headquarters, Metricell has offices in Malaga, Spain and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, providing opportunities for staff to gain international experience. Dr Mockford retired as Managing Director five years ago, with Tom stepping into the role, but continues to serve as Chairman.  

Tom said: ‘Big Blue has been important in terms of recruiting and retaining staff. We’ve always had a young staff profile as the software developers we employ tend to be in their 20s or early 30s, so we thought long and hard about what we could offer them in terms of facilities. We need to convince talented people that they don’t need to work in London or Brighton, as we have everything they need. As well as facilities, you need to challenge people to ensure they continually improve their skill-set by providing them with new and interesting projects.’

Tom Scaniland, MD at Metricell, Horsham (©AAH/Alan Wright)


From the beginning, Metricell has specialised in providing software solutions to telecommunications companies, constantly evolving in the face of technological advancement. While early projects focused on utilising the cloud to store data and providing platforms to analyse it, Metricell’s next step was to help clients improve their network coverage. With the advent of the BlackBerry and other early smartphones, applications (apps) emerged which could collect data. So, Metricell recruited app developers and built data-collecting software to ensure mobile network operators could build a clear picture of their coverage. This concept has since evolved with the advancement of geospatial intelligence and today Metricell partners with some of the world’s leading companies including the Home Office, EE and BT, Sky, Virgin Media and O2.  

Tom said: ‘Metricell has little recognition as a telecoms brand as we’ve never been a B2C (Business to Consumer) business. Instead, we’ve traded off the reputation of our client base. There’s always been a big contrast between little Metricell and our clients, which employ thousands of people and have annual turnovers of billions of pounds. But you grow-up quickly when you’re doing business with global brands, in terms of your professionalism. We were able to steadily grow year-on-year without much fanfare. But now, to a certain degree we’ve come out of stealth mode and unleashed Stan the App upon the world.’ 


Stan is a revolutionary mobile app that its creators hope will become a milestone in road safety and community empowerment. Thanks to a user-friendly AI-powered platform, Stan the App can to report potholes seamlessly. Users can select either ‘photo’ or ‘video’ mode to collect thousands of data points in a short drive. Each report generated helps contribute towards a collective voice and by consolidating all the submitted data, the app can create a picture of our roads and highlight necessary repairs.  

So, how did the idea come about?  

‘Two years ago, we were working on a project for a telecoms provider,’ says Tom. ‘You would like to think that when a company erects a 15m phone mast, they keep a good record of where it is, but that’s not always the case! We embarked on a project in which we utilised Google Street View to locate towers, but had to develop a neural network that could recognise them. That is complicated, as mobile towers can be anywhere from rooftops to fields, and some are designed to look like lampposts or trees. We needed to build an image bank, feed those into our machine learning server and train the neural network to identify them accurately. That was our first foray into computer vision AI.’ 

‘We now had the ability to develop mobile and web applications, as well as geospatial data sets. So, we pondered what problems we could apply our skill set to and the answer was potholes. We had the ability to use computer visuals and apply it to road infrastructure and highways, so under the leadership of Mike Mockford, Sales Director, we developed Stan the App. From an outside perspective, highways can be very bureaucratic and slow to adapt to change, so it was an opportunity for us to come in and disrupt.’ 

Stan is available for download on the App Store and Google Play


Stan’s advantage over current methods of gathering data about road networks is that it allows everyone to contribute. With extensive networks that can cover thousands of miles, identifying problems is a monumental task for local authorities and highways specialists. 

By using data collected from smartphones placed in car windscreen, Stan the App captures enough data to provide a live health score of Britain’s roads. The app has already been well received by influential figures and organisations. Mark Morrell, known as Mr Pothole, a leading advocate for improved road infrastructure, has voiced his approval, while Metricell has formed a strategic collaboration with the RAC. Members of the RAC will be encouraged to download the app and use it to report road conditions, with users able to view results on a dedicated map within the Stan the App website.  

Tom said: ‘With Stan the App, there’s no need to manually point a mobile at a pothole, as the AI performs that role. You just need to record as you’re driving and our technology does the hard work. It means we’re able to collect data on a scale that the highways industry is not currently even close to. However, we are fully aware that some things need to change in order to make this project a success. This is a long-term project, for sure. By putting the app out there, we hope the market will adapt. Finances are tight when it comes to roads and there are problems with the process of reporting, monitoring and repairing potholes. Currently, if a pothole is reported and isn’t fixed within an appropriate timeframe, the local authority could be liable to pay compensation for any damages it subsequently causes. So where so is their incentive to know about potholes? It almost makes sense to bury their heads in the sand.’

‘In addition to approaching local authorities, we’re in talks with road maintenance and insurance companies, who are looking at the many ways that the app could be utilised. All of which is very interesting for our staff. Most of what we do is telecoms focused, but Stan the App is our first foray into B2C, so there’s lots of excitement. We’re certainly proud of the work we’ve done on it.’ 

WORDS: Ben Morris

PHOTOS: Alan Wright

Further information:

Stan is available for download on the App Store and Google Play, or visit www.stantheapp.com