In October, Karen Fehl and Steve Griffith presented a paper at the 23rd ITS World Congress in Melbourne. Titled, ‘Better Business Outcomes through ITS,’ the paper acknowledged significant benefits to customers and asset owners, while also highlighting some of the challenges associated with ITS implementation and expansion in NZ over the past 16 years.  These challenges were summarised as:

  • Uncontrolled disparate growth
  • Vendor-driven Evolution
  • Aligning Technology Advances with Project Programmes
  • Business Systems Alignment with Physical Infrastructure
  • Human Factors in ITS

The paper then went on to suggest that these challenges also provide opportunities for improving systems, including the development of systems and standards, strong policy leadership and better business processes.

ITS Congress Melbourne

Abstract:

The introduction of ITS systems into New Zealand’s roading network over the past two decades has resulted in gradual improvements in information provided to customers in a reliable and timely fashion. However, aside from the technical considerations, there have been a number of organisational, legal and jurisdictional challenges to overcome. These challenges have also presented opportunities.  In addition, Government and lead transport authority, the NZ Transport Agency, are developing systems and standards at a number of levels.  Through gradual adoption of various systems and standards, and strong policy leadership, the NZ Transport Agency is increasingly benefiting from better business processes surrounding ITS. This will result in better project outcomes in terms of the quality of information provided to customers, as well as improved value for money. This paper describes some of the historical challenges which have motivated business change, and provides some insight into the opportunities that arise through legislative, organisational and standards-based changes to promote better business outcomes through ITS.

Steve attended a seminar on 30th November, which investigated the safety of At-Grade Rail Crossings. The seminar involved a series of presentations, followed by a panel discussion (of which Steve was a panel member). The seminar was focussed on exploring how serious an issue it is, and what the possible safety improvement options are. Steve observed that while significant progress has been made to date in improving safety for motorists, pedestrian safety has deteriorated. It was acknowledged that the public profile of these fatalities is very high, is very disruptive for passenger transport, and more can be done. This involves tackling the issue from a number of fronts, including via education programmes, enforcement as well as engineering solutions, particularly through smart use of ITS.

 

Mark Armstrong attended the recent Presidential Address by Sir John Armitt to the Auckland Branch of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

With over 13,500 members living and working throughout Asia Pacific, and 25 volunteer representatives working in 17 countries in the region, as well as many local committees, ICE is an important organisation for enabling engineers to learn from one another and debate and promote ideas and best practice throughout the world.

A key theme of Sir John’s presentation was his passion for ICE to be relevant in society, especially to the broader engineering disciplines, and to embrace change.  He hoped to empower the membership to be relevant and to provide value and innovation, within both the ICE and society. He cited the ICE’s current public awareness campaign, ‘This is Civil Engineering,’ designed to raise the public profile of civil engineering and the benefits of infrastructure to the local community at a time when there is a shortfall of engineers.

Sir John reflected that engineers were at their best when under pressure, delivering innovation and benefits to clients and society. He referenced the London Olympic delivery between 2007 and 2012, where initial cost estimates had led to many assets being completely redesigned, driving efficiencies, savings and environmental benefits to the games.

He also discussed the unknown market reaction to Brexit, and its effect on political policy and future funding. He asked what role the ICE would play in the future and asked that members be dynamic, flexible and adaptable in the coming years of uncertainty. The management of a country’s infrastructure is a key role where the ICE can bring large value. On its own initiative, the ICE will be publishing a report on the state of British assets in October this year. This document will be used to guide future political requirements in infrastructure.

Sir John wanted the membership to realise that as university costs rise and places reduce, not all future charted civil engineers will come via university; many will be promoted from within. The ICE needs to recognise this and respond accordingly, allowing ability to be nurtured and recognised. He also wanted the ICE to embrace other engineering disciplines and forge a better understanding and stronger ties, enabling lessons learned to be used and understood.

He concluded that engineering needed skills at all levels, that civil engineers needed to keep questioning the “why” in their everyday professional roles, and that the ICE and its members needed to remain dynamic, flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of the modern engineering world.