And why we need to start incorporating them into our sustainable infrastructure plans


Queensland is currently in the process of changing all traffic signals to LED lighting to achieve a 40% saving in energy consumption. Not only is this less harmful to the environment, but it also provides opportunities for more sophisticated maintenance – alerting us as to when lighting levels are low and directing us as to when and where maintenance is required, ensuring optimal use of resources.

This is just one example of how we are seeing more Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) being incorporated into our infrastructure to advance transportation safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability.


What is an Intelligent Transport System?

An Intelligent Transport System is an advanced application that aims to provide innovative services relating to different modes of transport and traffic management and enable users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and smarter use of transport networks.

As the Vice President of ITS Australia, I have worked across a wide range of areas including strategic planning, traffic and transport planning, road safety policy and engineering, road design, road operations, and ITS. I’ve seen the benefits of ITS first-hand and believe that a lot of this technology can potentially reduce the amount of infrastructure we need to develop when we start looking at the bigger picture.


What are the benefits of incorporating ITS into our infrastructure plans?

Applying ITS into our infrastructure can help obtain real-time, traffic and travel information and offer a flexible means of network control. It’s a key enabler of a sustainable transport system, which means it meets the safety, accessibility, and mobility needs of those in the area, provides the means to limit air pollution and noise from road transport, and supports a lively economy and efficient transport of goods and freight.

We’ve seen the extraordinary benefits that applying ITS has achieved, especially with the concept of managed motorways (also referred to as ‘smart motorways’). The concept of managed motorways is now being accepted as the norm when developing or upgrading an urban motorway, and we can see from our evaluations, that managed motorways can achieve an increase of up to 23% in capacity.

By creating four-lane motorways, means we avoid further development and building additional infrastructure, which will help ease congestion, and support the reduction of environmental impacts. I’m looking forward to seeing more projects cater to these types of technologies, however, acknowledge there are still challenges in applying ITS.


What are the challenges of implementing ITS into our infrastructure plans?

One of the challenges with any major change and we’ve seen this in the past, is that to realise the benefits, you’ve got to overcome a lot of the incumbency of how the industry is structured. There’s a lot of scale in setting up the supply chains for efficiency and efficiency of delivery. So, there’s a cost to change as well as a mindset change from the industry, government and academia bodies.

You need to encourage people to look past the immediate, short-term period and start to look towards the future where they need to be, in order to get people talking, investing, and looking at the long-term benefits of ITS.

Regarding technology, we’ve come so far from the start of 2020 and seen this continued way of working in a new form. We’ve seen this manifest itself on our transport networks and the reduction of use. Our challenge is to capture the benefits and sustaining these on a long-term basis to achieve sustainable outcomes because the current infrastructure caters to a different way of operating. So, those adjustments and technology can help overcome people’s inertia and give them other choices.

We need to start unpacking these challenges to determine what areas we can collaborate on and whether we can solve these by incorporating ITS or looking at alternate solutions. The key question we need to ask is ‘what’s the point of difference?’ and seeing where the opportunities lie from here as a collective.


What are your thoughts on ITS for the future?

Have your say on how we tackle these challenges with like-minded government, industry and academia leaders, and emerging professionals at the upcoming Infrastructure CoLab workshop.

Infrastructure CoLab will be kicking off its launch event on Wednesday 12 May with an immersive workshop, drawing from the learnings and successes of industry-led co-innovation programs. Following the launch event, participants will take part in immersive sessions over 3 to 5 months, developing solutions to the identified problems.

Join us in conceptualising creative and innovative solutions, especially in the ITS space, to these challenges by registering for the workshop today.

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