High Level Policy Roundtable on Intelligent Transport Systems

Speech

DCS003/2016

10 October 2016

ITS World Congress, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Good afternoon and on behalf of the Australian Government welcome to this High Level Policy Roundtable on Intelligent Transport Systems and to the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems.

I see today as an opportunity to share information on our past successes and to map out an informed approach to future challenges in the area of intelligent transport systems.

The two themes that we've asked you to focus on today are:

  • What are the top three ITS challenges facing your country or city over the next three to five years to enhance the liveability of cities and communities?
  • What are the top three initiatives being undertaken by your government or city over the next three to five years to enhance the liveability of cities and communities?

Of course, now is the ideal time to have these conversations, as the opportunities and challenges have never been greater, and the pace of change has never been faster.

By 2031, Australia will grow to just over 30 million people, with the majority of future growth expected to occur in and around our capital cities.

Australia, like many nations, will experience challenges associated with a larger population.

Innovation and technology must be part of the answer and my Government's Smart Cities Plan, released earlier this year, ensures that this will be a key part of our approach.

Transport is a critical factor in supporting productive, accessible, liveable cities that attract talent, encourage innovation and create jobs and growth.

While urban growth is seemingly inevitable, at least part of the solution to urban congestion is increased regional development.

As a government, we are working to grow regional centres through investment in better communication links, transport infrastructure and projects to improve the liveability of rural and regional Australia.

In past years, ITS has delivered important but incremental changes to our transport systems. In Australia, we've seen significant benefits from deployments of dynamic speed zones and active lane management, ramp metering, traveller information systems, e-tolling and other well established systems.

As you know, these kinds of technologies tend to be low cost and high return. They've helped us avoid or delay expensive construction works, or take a smarter approach to road operations and maintenance.

This is crucially important, as Australia faces strong growth in demand for infrastructure and at the same time, significant budget constraints.

For these reasons the Australian Government will continue to prioritise investment in proven ITS technologies.

However, the technologies that are on the horizon right now have the potential to be much more disruptive and transformative. Rather than delivering us incremental improvements, there is the potential to change the fundamentals of our transport system.

Road safety, for example, is an ongoing problem in large part because of the fundamental limitations of human drivers. With advances in vehicle automation and connectivity we have, for the first time, the realistic prospect of making the next great leap in improving road safety and reducing deaths on our roads.

Technological change also has the potential to make our infrastructure more efficient on an ever increasing scale. In addition to automation and improved vehicle connectivity, developments such as big data and the internet of things, more real-time travel information and new digitally based business models will deliver significant efficiency benefits.

It's important that we don't underestimate the impact that improved mobility can have on the lives of everyday people. Using more on-demand transport to deliver improved services in regional areas or giving people with a disability more options through automated transport are particularly exciting prospects.

It's my strong belief that in order to realise these benefits we, as senior leaders, must engage in the debate in this area. The days of ITS being a field only for engineers and technical experts are well behind us.

I believe that our success in the future will depend on the extent to which we make sound policy, regulatory and investment decisions in response to the emerging challenges.

These challenges include:

  • safety security and privacy;
  • the need for new digital infrastructure;
  • how we manage and use data;
  • keeping pace with innovation; and
  • integrating with existing systems, especially across internal and external borders.

We are facing these challenges today in the industry of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones.

And today I announced an air safety review on how we can effectively regulate the operation of Drones in Australia.

It is important we strike the right balance between managing safety and security, and allowing innovation to help grow the industry.

Regulations alone will not make it safe and we need to look to other technologies to mitigate the risks.

With all this in mind, Australia is undertaking a number of actions to prepare for the future.

In August this year myself, and my ministerial colleagues from state and territory governments, agreed to a National Policy Framework for Land Transport Technology. This Policy Framework sets out principles that will foster a national policy approach to emerging transport technologies, as well as providing certainty to industry about the role of government.

The policy principles in this document will help us deploy systems in a way that is interoperable across our internal borders, while still taking account of important local differences. Integrating systems across borders is going to be a challenge across the world, be it Europe, Asia or the Americas.

The Policy Framework is underpinned by a three-year action plan, which includes priorities such as:

  • establishing a regulatory framework for testing automated vehicles;
  • considering how our infrastructure might need to change for connected and automated vehicles;
  • encouraging innovation by making more transport data available as ‘open data’; and
  • exploring how we can increase the uptake of various ITS technologies.

In addition, Australia is currently reviewing the regulatory barriers to automated vehicles, expected to be finalised later this year. Following the outcomes of this work we will remove any identified barriers and introduce any new safety measures as required.

Again, it will be important to achieve a consistent approach to future regulation for automated vehicles. As a principle, we will look to follow international leads to reduce costs to industry and make Australia an attractive deployment destination.

Finally, the Australian Government is partnering with governments at all levels to deliver innovative test and trial deployments. Near Sydney, we are jointly funding with the NSW Government one of the world's first large scale trials of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in heavy vehicles. These vehicles are receiving a range of safety warnings in real time, such as forward collision alerts.

Much more work is planned in this area, and I will continue to have a very strong focus on collaborating with my state level counterparts.

I have no doubt we all leave today with a richer understanding of how we can harness the potential of intelligent transport systems to enhance the liveability of our cities and communities.

On behalf of the Australian Government I welcome you to the 2016 ITS World Congress and hope you have an enjoyable week.