Western Australia starts strong with its first two iMOVE projects
'Governments need to plan decades ahead for major transport infrastructure projects, which will then have decades of life span, so it is vitally important that we consider all probabilities and futureproof the infrastructure.'
This week the spotlight on intelligent transport systems shone strongly on Western Australia, with the launch of two new iMOVE projects.
The paperwork was signed a few weeks ago, but on Tuesday night a launch event was held in Perth, hosted by the Planning and Transport Research Centre (PATREC), celebrating collaboration on two projects involving The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, the Department of Transport, Main Roads Western Australia, and the Western Australian Planning Commission.
PATREC’s Director, Sharon Biermann, says that the existence of the PATREC collaboration, and the experience of working together as partners since PATREC’s establishment in 2003, has enabled WA’s transport community to rapidly respond to the iMOVE opportunity in a cohesive manner.
The new iMOVE projects in Western Australia are across two of the three iMOVE themes, intelligent transport systems, and freight and logistics.
Congestion prediction and preparation for automated vehicles
The first project is in the area of traffic prediction, and the work here is being carried out by Main Roads Western Australia and the University of Western Australia. This one project is actually two subprojects. The first will help traffic authorities make short-term predictions (15 to 30 minutes out) about road network performance, with the aid of data collection.
‘This short-term traffic prediction is the first step towards a long-term vision of developing a real-time traffic nowcast system, that enables the Traffic Operations Centre to manage the network proactively and to lessen congestion overall,’ said PATREC Research Fellow, Chao Sun.
The second subproject will develop simulation models to identify possible impacts to the operation and planning of Perth’s freeways due to the introduction of automated vehicles (AVs).
‘Autonomous driving is a potentially disruptive technology, and we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future. Simulating AVs is not about predicting the exact future, instead it’s about preparing a game plan for the increasingly uncertainty that AVs will impose on us. Governments need to plan decades ahead for major transport infrastructure projects, which will then have decades of life span, so it is vitally important that we consider all probabilities and futureproof the infrastructure,’ said Chao.
Freight and logistics infrastructure – planning for Perth’s future
The second WA iMOVE project is also somewhat in the area of prediction, but rather than traffic it is planning for dealing with the uplift in freight that will accompany Perth’s population growth.
This project will be carried out by the Department of Transport (WA), Main Roads Western Australia, the University of Western Australia, and Edith Cowan University.
It will deliver an integrated strategy to meet freight and trade logistics for Perth and surrounding regions (including Bunbury) for the next 50-100 years. It will guide the planning, development and growth of the Port of Fremantle at the Inner and Outer Harbour, the required rail and road networks, and the opportunities for the Port of Bunbury to handle trade expansion.
‘The iMOVE Intermodal/Freight project gives us the opportunity to observe port developments around the world to see how logistics infrastructure can be designed to support efficient road and rail connections,’ said Tim Hoffman, Project Manager at PATREC.
‘The best logistics systems for Perth may be a hybrid of approaches used in a range of Australian and international settings. It is also vital that we understand evolving supply chain trends, so that we are designing ports for the future industrial economy, not just the present.’
The ways forward begin now
Only last week Infrastructure Australia released figures on expected capital city population growth over the next 30 years, with Perth slated to grow to be a city of 4.4 million in that period. That is of course an estimate, but what is an absolute truth is that developing strategies and plans for growth must begin now, and with these projects PATREC, and Western Australia, is on the right track.
‘It’s refreshing to see PATREC, with support from the Federal Government, transforming into a significant, university research-driven entity, driving transport planning forward for both Western Australia and the nation,’ said Reece Waldock, the PATREC Board Chairman.
‘Perth, like all Australian capital cities, has to deal with and plan for the management of the city as it grows. Not only do we need to plan and build new infrastructure, we need to optimise existing infrastructure, and in all of this it is critical that good decision-making is driven by data.’