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Working during the rise of big data

by Australian Road Research Board on July 9, 2020

The Australian Road Research Board is a data organisation and has been using big data since before it was called ‘big data’. We use it every day for cutting edge research and to produce the robust foundations that help our clients stay safe and make informed decisions and policy.


Big data entered common language in the early 2000s. By quickly looking back at this time, we can unpack how a world of big data was created. During this time, the internet transformed from static websites (basically the online equivalent of a magazine) to dynamic websites, allowing users to interact with the content. The emergence of these interactive websites allowed every click and key stroke to be gathered and the big four Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon or “GAFA” began accumulating huge amounts of data. Through the late 2000s big data took a quantum leap with the wide spread use of smart phones, adding location information to the big data pool.

Today and most relevant to the road transport industry, connected vehicles have caused the latest data explosion. Any connected device with a GPS receiver, provides data on ‘where’ and ‘how fast’ that device is travelling, and modern connected cars provide an even richer dataset from their array of sensors. Modern cars with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can generate gigabytes of data every day, this provides a wealth of new information, but it is also where big data problems begin. Working with big data is not easy. The challenges include managing privacy and governance issues, combining data that is fragmented and inconsistent and the size of data that dramatically increases hosting, transfer and storage costs.

To meet these challenges ARRB formed the Advanced Technologies Lab which serves as ARRB’s data engine room. Over the next few weeks, we will share how we have worked with our partners and customers to solve these big data challenges.

To learn more about how our Advanced Technologies Lab and how it uses big data, click here: ntpc.arrb.com.au

Topics: ARRB News, ARRB, Australian Road Research Board, Road and Transport Research