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Victorian State Budget Lunch - Sponsor's Address

The following speech was presented by Austraffic's Managing Director, John Reid, at the Victorian State Budget Lunch held by the AITPM’s Victorian branch, and attended by State Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan.  

Just before the Victorian budget was handed down, the treasurer Tim Pallas was reported as saying "You can't just build transport connections, you have to build communities."

The AITPM and Austraffic have a great affinity with this sentiment.

At the 2017 AITPM National Conference, keynote speaker Brent Toderian from Canada said, “to understand traffic in cities you have to understand cities and people”.

And now we have much more information on which to measure our impact and performance.

Yesterday the Federal Minister for Cities opened the world’s first lab for planning future cities at the University of NSW. The first big trend he has noted is “the explosion of data of all kinds”.

Data is the foundation of any project. However, we must ensure the foundation is sound.

We need to remind ourselves of the adverse consequences of putting our faith or staking our reputations on data that could be all wrong.

There is too much focus on getting the cheapest cost without considering how it is compromising the quality of the data.

As astronaut John Glenn thought to himself as he was waiting to be blasted into space, "I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

Let’s not find our selves operating in what the banking Royal Commission described as an ‘Acceptance of Risk’ environment.  Accepting the risk of using poor data is not only inefficient but like the banking industry approaches that have been identified, it is a fundamentally unethical action.

You cannot just take the raw numbers as being the truth.

At the opening of the lab for planning future cities, Research Associate Dr. Ryan van den Nouwelan said that “broad data is very rarely ready to use”.  He spends a lot of his time cleaning the data.

I am striving to highlight international concerns and local examples of how poorly collected data, including with some automated technologies, can produce very inaccurate results. Recent meetings with some government departments identified a significant amount of data collected through the usual processes are of such poor quality as to be unusable.

After my recent paper in New Zealand [IPENZTG 2018], a number of professionals expressed an interest in pursuing this issue.  I will present a further paper at this year’s AITPM National conference.

Successful companies are not scrimping on giving the right resources to data collection, and they are seeing the benefits.

Austraffic has been an active partner on Transurban’s Connected Autonomous vehicle assessment, using new age technologies to capture and record events on these high tech projects. The results came from detailed resource plans and audited processes.

It is not just about moving people.  There is increasing awareness of the magnitude and importance of freight.

Austraffic is pleased to have Martin Toomey, the Director of Sales from Scania Australia as one of our guests here today.  Next week he is chairing a session and presenting a paper at the Global Heavy Vehicle Leaders’ Summit that will also see a contribution from Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr. Alan Finkel.

I will conclude by again referencing Brent Toderian’s key note address.

He spoke of the need for Constructive Candour, where we openly and honestly discuss and review what we know, what we think we know and whether that is consistent with other information and opinions.

Minister Donnellan, your presentation on the budget, has some very significant plans for transport projects that serve the community’s needs. Austraffic will continue to work with organisations such as the AITPM to help promote and facilitate you having the right data and the right analysis to assist in serving the community.

There is too much focus on getting the cheapest cost without considering how it is compromising the quality of the data.