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Having been involved in intelligent transport systems for over a decade, I’ve seen and heard many visions of what the future of transport and driver information will look like. These visions include networks of connected vehicles, road and infrastructure systems that aid movement and improve safety, smart city initiatives and solutions that provide access to mobility solutions for all communities through Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to name a few. To make all this work, we need commonality of protocols and quality data.

Ideally, the best way to make something like this happen would be to bring together the different stakeholders in this space – academics, private service providers and the government, on a single platform, to discuss the objectives and the expected standards and protocols that will help us achieve it.

This is precisely why the National Transport Data Community of Practice (NTD-CoP) was initiated. ITS established the CoP as a forum to address the key challenges and opportunities that exist within the transport data arena.

The CoP is made up of ITS Australia members and other key stakeholders to ensure a broad range of expertise can contribute to and collaborate on the development and application of transport data in Australia. This includes sharing updates on activities in respective jurisdictions and organisations; including research, trials, deployments, and international engagement.

I was pleased to be asked to Co-Chair the CoP with Fang Chen, Executive Director Data Science and Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology in Sydney. Last week, we held the second meeting of the NTD-CoP, attended by over 60 representatives of interested organisations. The meeting expanded on how organisations are adding value to the Australian transport landscape as well as discussing the opportunities and examples of how transport data will play a vital role in the establishment of programs and future initiatives.

At the meeting, in a presentation, of the draft, MaaS Reference Committee Data Sharing discussion paper, at least 25 standards and protocols for data sharing had been identified. Similarly, data requirements of each sector, how it will be used and where the end customer fits into this journey, were topics of discussion. Clarity on these details is key to putting together any framework – as each system has been designed for a purpose. Unless that purpose is understood, protocols cannot be harmonised.

It was fascinating to note that many participants were interested in looking at the passage of data within an entire data ecosystem – from data gathering through to utilisation. Intelematics is somewhat unique in this respect as we have set up our micro-ecosystem that sees traffic data gathered, analysed and redistributed. We are both a gatherer and a user, and therefore have a lot to contribute to this space.

The changing dynamics of transport and infrastructure industry in the current scenario has seen large scale investment in this sector across Australia. The CoP is well-positioned to contribute to workable frameworks informing the access and use of transport data.

The meeting concluded with a round-table discussion, and it was clear there is a strong interest and a need for more discussion as the CoP continues to engage with the different stakeholders and gathers a better understanding of how we can collaborate and contribute.

Key takeaways from this session included:

  • Defining the scope of future COP activities by addressing the critical challenges of in the National Transport Data landscape and organising to address these across the interested parties. 
  • The requirement for further conversations around common data standards, protocols, availability and quality 
  • Finding common ground and how different players in the industry can come together and share knowledge, data, and know-how. 

Steve Owens is Intelematics’ Chief Operating Officer and the Co-Chair of the National Transport Data Community of Practice. This week he will moderate a discussion on Data Insights and Approaches at the Mobility 2020 – MaaS, Future Mobility & More Virtual Conference