Last week, I was a panellist at Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s 2017 Partnerships Conference. Joining me to discuss technology, transport and reform was Jessika Loefstedt, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager at Uber and Tim Reardon, Secretary at Transport for NSW.

What struck me throughout the discussion was the strong focus on the customer. Each organisation represented on the panel was making a concerted effort to ‘disrupt itself’ in pursuit of new service opportunities and improved customer experience.

We know ride hailing and ride-sharing services, electric vehicles, integrated transport platforms and transport on demand apps are reshaping urban mobility.

We’ve seen Uber play an important role in changing consumer perceptions towards the kind of customised transport services that are possible through technology. As this change is embraced it will be interesting to see the new entrants it attracts to the industry and what new services it will generate.

At Transurban, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’ve been building our capability over a number of years. Today 40% of our workforce is in technology whose daily focus is data, network performance and security.

Why are we broadening our focus from traditionally being an engineering and development company to one focused on technology? To optimise our road networks and bring certainty, choice and convenience to our customers. 

As an individual when I’m sitting in a car on a road I have very little information available to help me plan my journey. I crane my neck trying to look at what’s happening on the road ahead. I do the calculations in my head, mapping and comparing different routes, but essentially I am one person trying to game a much bigger system. I simply don’t have the information to plan my journey while en route.

At Transurban we’re looking at how we can use data to introduce network management systems to help individuals optimise their trip within a more efficient road network.

To do this, we need quality data, pulled together in the right way at the right time. For example, smart motorway systems installed on CityLink as part of the Monash Freeway Upgrade have seen average speeds increase by 40 per cent at peak times allowing for 20 per cent more cars to travel in each lane.

Across our network we have laid 700 kilometres of optic fibres which are connected to 100,000 pieces of technology and safety systems. These roadside systems generate real-time traffic and network data, which we can aggregate and interpret and we are investigating increasingly sophisticated ways to provide this information back to our customers in ways that are useful to them.

We know our customers want to have a fair sense of power and control over their travel, so we’re focused on developing capability and services designed to ensure our customers understand their options and can make informed choices. 

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