Smart ICT for Australia's infrastructure

Monday, 24 August, 2015

Smart ICT for Australia's infrastructure

The federal government has been told that with the populations of Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne slated to double by 2050 and the cities’ roads and other infrastructure struggling to cope with population growth, a new approach is needed for infrastructure planning and operation.

“We are at a turning point in history — modern technologies for data will enable the transformation of all industries and infrastructure leading to greater efficiencies,” Professor Bob Williamson, interim CEO of NICTA, told the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Smart Infrastructure in Sydney on Friday.

“There is an unprecedented opportunity for us to connect all physical and non-physical data that we now have access to — from sensors to crowd-sourced information, from individual commuters and drivers to data sources from government and industry, and use this for the benefit of the nation.

“By getting smart about how we plan, operate and build all kinds of infrastructure, from water pipes to roads and public transport, we can operate what we have more efficiently and make better choices on new investment — an important point when we have a massive infrastructure backlog and fiscal tightening.”

NICTA has recommended the use of data, through new analytical and predictive tools, to bridge the gap from creating new technology to solving challenges in the real world.

By using smart ICT, Australia would be able to forecast demand more accurately, save money on maintenance and liberate capacity from congested roads, freeways and public transport services.

NICTA research has shown that this kind of technology investment can reduce travel times by up to 40%.

Moreover, increases in capacity can be obtained for a fraction of the cost of widening existing motorways, releasing funds for schools, hospitals and public transport.

NICTA is also investigating how similar techniques can be incorporated into long-term planning models to make use of all available data that may have a bearing on future growth and the groundwork needed to support it.

NICTA has also been working on connected vehicle systems that aim to improve road safety for heavy freight vehicles. This kind of project is a step along the path to fully autonomous vehicles.

NICTA believes that open-innovation programs are vital to building better information services for road and public transport users so that we can all make better transport decisions, providing choice, easing demand and giving transport operators the feedback they need to improve services.

Image courtesy Neil Kremer under CC

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