Australian transport agencies are at risk of losing a valuable opportunity to transform network planning and the daily commute, a global transport expert has warned.
Terry Bills, international smart transport specialist with location-based analytics giant Esri, said the transport sector’s greatest untapped resource – the Big Data collected every day from GPS devices, smartphone apps and electronic ticketing – is often underutilised because of uncertainty over how to translate the raw information into meaningful insights.
Mr Bills is coming to Australia to speak at the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Melbourne in October, where he will demonstrate how to use advanced location-based analytics to increase mobility and create more liveable smart cities.
“Every smartphone is a sensor and every transport card records vital information, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the terabytes of real-time data that is flooding in every day,” Mr Bills said.
“But by using advanced technology to map and analyse Big Data, we can reveal previously hidden blind spots in transportation trends and traffic patterns that will enable better network planning and management.
“Location-based analytics is unique in being able to provide these insights in a highly visual, interactive narrative that simply can’t be constructed from a table or standard data base.
“This approach could assist Australian transport agencies to predict the value of new routes and infrastructure and enable them to model various incentives and strategies on particular routes to reduce congestion and improve service delivery and reliability.”
Singapore, Los Angeles and London have all implemented location-based analytics programs to map passenger movements and make better informed decisions about transport policy and infrastructure development.
“Transport for London (TfL) started using the technology to plan its road networks before the Olympics and have now extended the program to completely reform the transportation network in London,” Mr Bills said.
“It’s Road Modernisation Plan involves hundreds of separate road, tunnel, bridge and cycle path projects with each new scheme represented by an internal ‘Playbook’ app that enables employees to view 170 layers of data on interactive street maps.
“By providing a single source of truth and a real-time picture of what projects are underway, the technology has enabled smarter scheduling, community engagement and road safety analysis.”
While in Australia, Mr Bills will be meeting with key transportation agencies from across Australia to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by Big Data.
Australian smart transport specialist Evan Quick, who headed up the location-based analytics program at VicRoads before becoming a specialist with Esri Australia, will moderate a workshop with Mr Bills at the ITS World Congress on the challenges and opportunities of Big Data.
Mr Quick said with Australia’s population set to soar to 30 million by 2031, the pressure on authorities and commercial enterprises to deliver intelligent transport systems that are reliable, efficient, safe, sustainable and accessible has never been greater.
“Traffic congestion – and its impact on local business – is forecast to cost $20b a year by 2020,” said Mr Quick.
“The answer to addressing these challenges – and mitigating the associated risks – doesn’t lie in traditional responses. Australia’s transport agencies must explore new approaches, such as advanced location-based analytics – to drive greater returns from their Big Data reservoirs.
“For example, the Big Data sourced from travel cards often has limited value in its raw form – however location-based analytics technology can bring order to this data, by literally mapping undetected trends to present valuable, new insights.
“By presenting travel patronage data in the powerful visual format of a map, you gain a new perspective on information and clearly identify where there is scope in the network to initiate positive change.”
For further information on advanced location-based analytics, visitesriaustralia.com.au/smart-