Towards a Traffic Database for Perth and WA

AITPM put together a plenary discussion about building a coherent traffic database for Perth and Western Australia. Our General Manager, Vern Bastian, was invited to present his position on the future of traffic data collection. He was joined by other industry experts – Anthony Maroni (Data and Systems Manager at MRWA), Russell Jones (Principal at Austraffic) and Brendan Lumbers (Business Analyst, Ticketing and Performance at Transperth).

The Launch of Traffic Map 2.0

Main Roads Western Australia is a national pioneer in offering access to open traffic data. After launching a Beta state-wide traffic map, the 2.0 version is almost ready to meet the public. Under the direction of Anthony Maroni and his team, the new map brings significant improvements – more data, better reports, improved filtering options.

At this time, users can only view and export traffic data, however, audience members expressed their interest in importing their data to fill in the gaps. This has the potential to create a complete, historical, state-wide database of motorised and bicycle traffic. Australian Local Councils and MWRA use MetroCount systems almost exclusively for traffic data collection programs.

*Note: The MRWA Traffic Map is now publicly available.


Austraffic Traffic Data Collection

As private contractor supplying Australian road transport and traffic agencies with traffic data, Austraffic regularly reviews their services to provide cutting-edge data to their clients. They use a mix of technologies to collect data, such as MetroCount tubes, cameras, OD surveys, Bluetooth and road lighting. To encourage accurate data collection and consistency, Russell Jones presented their recommended sensor configurations, highlighting the importance of collecting accurate classification data.

Left: Tube data collection on a dual road; Right: Tube data collection on a bi-directional road.


Left: Tube data collection on an undivided dual-carriageway road cannot provide accurate classification data; Right: Tube data collection on a divided dual-carriageway road.


Public Transport Open Data

Transperth has been collecting passenger data for a long time via their SmartRider tag on/tag off system. This provides great insight into the distribution of transport means (train, bus, ferry). Additional data is collected via CCTV cameras. This supplements knowledge about free public transport usage (i.e. CAT busses) and modes passengers use to get to their departure station.

While this data has been available internally, Transperth is considering making it public. Efforts are currently being made to improve the database, create and publish standardised reports, improve support for DoT modelling and to enable access to datasets via web APIs.


Will disruptive technologies remove the need for traditional data collection methods?

The final discussion focused on the future of traffic data collection. With IoT technologies presenting new opportunities, it seems tube and loop counters are a thing of the past. Specialists argue, however, that these innovative collective methods haven’t yet reached their potential with regards to sample size, delivery method and pricing. Some downfalls of new technologies are:

  • Lack of vehicle classification data;
  • High price per survey;
  • Unfeasible for use in remote areas.

Until this key factors are improved, tube counters will remain the most reliable method of traffic data collection.

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