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Are we equipped for the movement shift in the burbs?

By John Cardoso

Without the work commute, people are frequenting supermarkets, cafes and speciality shops in their own neighbourhoods. While prior to the pandemic this would be a common scenario on the weekend, now, with many people working from home, these local shopping villages are becoming bustling commerce centres seven days a week.

However, while this shift in movement patterns is a positive for local economies and small businesses, these local shopping villages have not been set up with the appropriate infrastructure to handle roaring trade on a daily basis.

In Australia’s major cities, the transport system has been designed based on the assumption that a significant proportion of residents will be travelling into CBDs daily. This means that while local government areas that house our CBDs are well-equipped with the latest smart infrastructure to cater to large volumes of people and movement, local government areas that cover outer suburbs are far less sophisticated.

Take Melbourne, for example. The City of Melbourne collects data from 4,300 in-ground sensors located under on-street parking bays. These sensors detect vehicle movements in and out of individual parking bays, offering indications as to whether bays are available or unavailable. Sensor data can also show the allowed length of time for each bay, and whether a bay is restricted to those holding a disabled parking permit.

This parking sensor data is available through an Open Data Platform for developers, entrepreneurs and members of the public to access at no cost.

But what about the local government areas (LGAs) in outer suburban locales that are yet to benefit from such investment in smart city solutions and as a result have far less sophisticated infrastructure to gather data and draw insights from? To date, local governments rely on small scale, timely and costly studies using tubes to collect data. Unfortunately, the results of these studies can be inaccurate and expose the workers involved in the process to hazardous situations.

How can LGAs gain access to high-quality mobility data for planning their development and infrastructure projects more efficiently? Especially now, when demand on their services and commercial centres is on the rise. Considering a bias for outdated investment practices based on assumption continues. We think the only way to overcome this problem is by democratising the nation’s mobility data.

Suburban LGAs must look for more affordable, more readily available, but no less sophisticated smart city tools that can help them to best manage the movement of people and better plan cities and suburbs.

To understand how local councils, traffic engineers and smart city planners, can get a better understanding of traffic patterns on Australian roads to make better decisions watch this webinar by John Cardoso.

Up-to-date data drives more informed planning and decision making, which drives better outcomes for all. For example, imagine that hundreds of millions of dollars is spent delivering an upgrade to a major road. Yet mere months after re-opening, the road becomes hugely congested. To overcome this, we may see attempted band-aid solutions, such as manipulating the sequencing of traffic lights, adjusting speed limits, or increasing toll prices. However, none of this is needed if data is used to drive decision making from the outset. When we get these decisions wrong, we live with the consequences for decades.

For local councils specifically, data helps to identify bottlenecks early and respond most effectively. This helps local governments to proactively serve constituents, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence and responding to complaints after the fact.

As we move forward, we will only become more sophisticated in how we harness mobility data. For example, we are seeing the beginnings of mobility data helping local councils meet emissions targets — by understanding how to divert truck routes to minimise emissions and identifying the best locations to place electric vehicle charging infrastructure to incentivise uptake.

We should live in a world where data isn’t a scary concept. It should be seen as a readily available resource that can be tapped into by anyone, any time. We don’t want to see a world where data is under lock and key, accessible only by the top one per cent with the means.

At Intelematics, we strive every day to democratise the nation’s mobility data by providing up-to-date and accurate data at scale at an affordable price. That’s why we’ve created the INSIGHT traffic analysis tool, which gives users access to traffic volume, speed, congestion and journey trends data and insights, anytime and anywhere. Traditionally, open-source mobility data only came in complex formats. We have moved the data into a simple format that anyone can interpret. By removing data scientists as gatekeepers and giving as many people as possible access to the most accurate and up-to-date information, we hope to take the guesswork out of planning and drive data-led decision making, ensuring we improve outcomes for all.

Try INSIGHT for free by registering here



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Providing traffic data and connected vehicle services that enhance mobility, convenience and peace of mind.