Tracking your commute
Real-time-data tracking how, where and when we move may lead to easier commuting.
Paul Simon once sang of technological advancements good and bad: “These are the days of miracles and wonder,” and he was right. Our use of technology in every facet of our lives means that information is gathered wherever we go, from myki cards and smartphones to in-car technology, CCTV and satellites.
In the past this information was based on expensive, time-consuming and infrequent surveys that sampled traffic flow on selected days. Policy makers now have continuous real-time data to work from as they plan public transport, road infrastructure and traffic-light timings. Insight gained from analysing this data has the potential to unlock real benefits.
RACV's News and Lifestyle spoke to the people who carve up all of our transport data, to find out how the information age is changing the way we travel and the way our cities are being designed. This is a timely discussion given Melbourne and Victoria are going through an extraordinary period of growth. Most of us feel this change when we experience packed trains and trams, overflowing footpaths and, of course, congestion on the roads.
As the RACV launches its 2018 Redspot Survey, identifying the most notorious road sections across the city and suburbs, pretty much every expert we spoke to for this story said drivers had better get used to traffic jams.
In April, Infrastructure Victoria’s ‘Immediate actions to tackle congestion’ report reconfirmed its travel forecasts. The city’s population is expected to rise from 4.9 million people to around six million by 2030. Daily travel is set to increase by 25 per cent while overall travel, whether by car, public transport or other means, may increase by 3.5 million journeys per day. Cars are expected to account for 70 per cent of journeys.
But alleviating the congestion crush is where data comes into its own. When you walk into the Bourke Street headquarters of Intelematics, owner of the SUNA Traffic channel, your eye is drawn to a giant wall-screen showing streetscapes of Australia’s major cities. Individual roads change colour as traffic eases or freezes before your eyes. Technicians work away at computers, analysing and monitoring.
Intelematics’ Product Manager, Steven Moloney, doesn’t even attempt to explain the science going on behind that SUNA screen. Partly because the maths and coding is extraordinarily complex but also because there are sensitive commercial arrangements that he needs to protect, such as which data providers his company works with to gain access to devices or elements within individual cars that are pinging towers or satellites.