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How ARRB uses data to improve our roads

by Australian Road Research Board on August 10, 2021

Before COVID transformed the world, Alan Tudge, Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure opened Australia’s National Transport Performance Centre (NTPC) and in doing so laid a foundation for transforming the way we look at transport data.

The NTPC brings together road transport data to report on the performance of Australia’s road network. Big data is at the heart of the NTPC which employs a team of engineers, data scientists and software developers.

The NTPC receives over 90 terabytes of data each year from ARRB’s iPAVe and other survey vehicles. The road condition data is combined with asset information, crash and traffic data enabling ARRB to measure the safety, condition and congestion of our roads.

To make sense of these varied datasets and create Australia’s first national crash map, ARRB had to overcome the challenges of working with big data.

  • A single national map – the first step was achieved by linking all data and its exact location to a common base map.
  • Cloud storage – ARRB uses the latest cloud computing techniques that allow for efficient storage, accessibility and analysis.
  • Data lake – securely storing the data in a data lake so it can be quickly referenced, compared and displayed.
  • Harmonisation– data was aligned, the time- period and the categories in which the data was collected.
  • De-identification – to preserve data privacy and anonymity.

Creating the process for ingesting transport data solves half the problem, but to fulfil its role and to convert data into knowledge, the NTPC draws upon the knowledge and experience of ARRB’s subject matter experts that literally surround the NTPC data engine room in Port Melbourne and connect with others across Australia.

By combining data with knowledge, and through a process of benchmarking, measuring and forecasting the centre serves as a single source of truth providing the evidence needed to make informed policy decisions to help shape our transport future.

Contact ARRB on info@arrb.com.au to find out more about the NTPC and ARRB's work with data in transport.

NTCP opening Alan Tudge

Federal Minister Alan Tudge (right) with ARRB CEO Michael Caltabiano at the opening of the National Transport Performance Centre (NTPC) in Melbourne.

Topics: ARRB News, Research, Australian Road Research Board, Transport Data, Smart cities