Australian initiative will harness ‘big data’ for transport planning


The massive amounts of Australian vehicle traffic data being collected via satellite and other communications technologies could soon be used by the federal, state and territory governments to plan for future investments in essential transport infrastructure.

The Australian Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher (below right), has released the terms of reference for the Data Collection and Dissemination Plan project, with a draft plan scheduled for release within six months. The Australian government is committed to using emerging technologies to help address the future infrastructure needs of the county’s growing population.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) will lead the project, overseen by a steering group comprising industry, academia and government representatives. The initiative forms part of the government’s response to the ‘Australian Infrastructure Plan’ released by Infrastructure Australia, an independent statutory body with a mandate to progress nationally significant schemes.

The BITRE, operating within the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, will lead the development of a Data Collection and Dissemination Plan that:

• Identifies key national infrastructure and transport statistics;

• Develops national infrastructure performance measures;

• Identifies opportunities to use new technologies to collect infrastructure data;

• Develops means of disseminating data to encourage innovation and improved public and private decision making;

• Promotes and identifies priority projects that fill key data gaps, develop and report performance relevant to infrastructure operators and customers, and support innovation in data collection and use.

The Plan will improve and coordinate information and data collection across key stakeholders, provide improved and more timely information for infrastructure investment decisions, and monitor the performance of Australia’s existing transportation networks. Developing opportunities to harness new data sources, including ‘Big Data’ from emerging data sources will be a key part of the initiative’s development, with the final Plan provided to the government within 12 months.

Launching the project in Sydney at an event hosted by the SMART Infrastructure Facility, from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Fletcher said, “Technology is having a transformative effect on transport and infrastructure and the opportunities provided by data are immense.

“This project, which involves the federal, state and territory governments, and representatives from the transport sector and academia, will examine how this wealth of big data information can be used to better inform the decision-making process. By providing information on freight routes, speeds and fleet composition, big data has the potential to improve the productive capacity of both current and future transport networks.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).