The words ‘data scientist’ and ‘sexiest job in the world’ are not natural bedfellows, but, according to the Harvard Business Review, data scientists who look beyond the numbers to give real and intelligent insights are highly sought and the newest ‘sex symbols’ on the block.
The theory goes that as technology’s ability to collect increasingly complex data grows, so does the need to find people able to effectively maximise its potential. Being able to wade through volumes of available information to understand what is really going on is vital. According to the HBR report “poor data quality is the primary reason for 40% of all business initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits.”
Traffic management professionals can take those words to mean that they have to use data smarter or it could easily lead to poorly informed decision-making with long-term consequences of high levels of congestion and a loss of productivity impacting us all in our everyday lives.
Austraffic’s John Reid believes that philosophy is starting to take hold in the industry and has seen recent examples where that thinking has had immediate practical benefits.
“The recent closures of the CityLink Tunnels and the Westgate Bridge for maintenance and closure on the Eastlink toll way in Melbourne for the international Iron Man competition created challenges for motorists and the event traffic managers,” said John.
“Austraffic assisted in the management of the alternative traffic diversions by deploying Bliptrack sensors on the alternative routes. The sensors detected the unique code of individual Bluetooth-enabled devices from passing vehicles at various points along the routes and gave an accurate and real-time Origin-Destination travel time.
“To understand the change in traffic on the day we ran a baseline comparison survey a week prior to the event. This allowed VicRoads to make decisions in real time on the day with a good baseline understanding of traffic conditions.
The time spent planning the event, and then having the real time information to hand paid dividends for the event organisers and VicRoads, with minimal increase in travel time being experienced by the travelling public (less than one minute). “This was still 20% lower than a normal weekday peak, even with an increase of over 40% in the volume of traffic along Springvale Rd throughout the event due to the diversion. We observed a number of interesting trends which we are sharing with VicRoads and the event organisers to assist their planning for subsequent events.”
“This is using data and the technology smarter to manage the traffic and optimise the outcome on the day. We’re seeing more of this as data collection becomes more reliable and repeatable. The future is going to be about making decisions based on a complete understanding of what this complex and far reaching data really means.”