As the population of many global cities continues to rapidly expand, relieving congestion and reducing the negative impacts it generates, social and economic, must become a priority for government and industry.

With a population approaching seven million, congestion is an increasing problem in the Australian city of Melbourne, which is why the University of Melbourne, HERE and other industry leaders are collaborating on an innovative smart transport project.

The ‘National Connected Multimodal Transport Test Bed’ project is scheduled to start in April 2017, and takes connected data from thousands of sensors fitted to vehicles and infrastructure, along with data from pedestrians and cyclists, to provide an insight into how smart transport systems need to be managed.

The test area comprises 5 square kilometres at the heart of Melbourne, and includes Alexandra Parade, Hoddle Street, Lygon Street and Victoria Street – some of the most notoriously busy roads in Australia.

It’s a collaboration that includes 17 public and private sector partners, providing data from multiple sources. HERE is providing map data, real-time traffic and analytics insights into the movement of passenger vehicles, freight and public transport throughout the test zone.

Creating a fully connected smart city is no easy feat. It requires coordination between hundreds of disparate systems and testing in real-world environments, which is why HERE is collaborating with The University of Melbourne, industry leaders and local government to establish the first of its kind, smart city test bed on the fringe of Melbourne’s CBD.

Traffic management plans for major events, like the AFL Grand Final Day, have proved highly successful. Innovative approaches to multi-modal transport can have positive impact on the traffic commuters face on a daily basis.

Intelligent transport systems will analyse this data and deliver insights into traffic planning, pedestrian flows, public transport efficiency and freight movements. The research tells us that connected transport could in time reduce the economic impact of road crashes by 90 per cent, not to mention the devastating human impact.

The work could make a huge difference to Melbourne and much further afield with the possibility to apply the learnings from the project to other cities all around the world.

The efficiency and congestion-busting benefits of smart city technologies have been touted for years – now it’s time to make the smart city concept a reality.

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