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NITSC to save lives, reduce traffic

Ambitious: John Brumby says up to 717 lives can be saved over five years.

New "intelligent transport systems" body aims to reduce road deaths and traffic jams

General News logo28 Feb 2006

By NEIL MCDONALD

VICTORIA’S new National Intelligent Transport Systems Centre (NITSC) could help fast-track applications of recognised life-saving transport and driver-safety technologies in Australia.

Reflecting on a three-year delay in the validation of new radar technology available in Mercedes-Benz’s new S-class sedan, the Victorian Minister for State and Regional Development John Brumby admitted that governments were often slow in applying new transport technologies.

"There’s no doubt about it," he said.

However, he believes the new multi-million-dollar Port Melbourne centre could help cut through some of the red tape at a Federal level.

"This will make quite a difference," he said. "I think the fact that it’s here, established in Melbourne with such strong state government support and now enjoying huge industry support ... I think the Federal Government will have a serious look at what’s happening here and take note." Mr Brumby said the public and privately funded centre could provide "much of the answer to future traffic congestion and traffic safety issues".

DaimlerChrysler has been trying for three years to have two radar frequencies approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for use in its S-class. Approval for the frequencies is still pending.

The NITSC is the first on-stop-transport-technology shop of its kind in the world. It has been designed as a hub for companies developing new transport, distribution and logistics (TDL) technology in Australia and overseas.

Currently five businesses operate out of the centre and it is predicted that up to 25 organisations will come on board within six months.

The centre’s primary focus is to improve efficiency and safety in Victoria’s $16 billion TDL industry but it will also help facilitate selling transport solutions offshore.

More than 180,000 people in Victoria are employed in the TDL industry.

The Port Melbourne-based centre has been established with a $1 million Victorian Government grant and will be managed by Intelligent Transport Systems Australia with NEC Business Solutions as a major partner.

NEC has contributed about $2 million in business systems and hardware at the site.

The facility has 16 on-site warehouse bays for rent to assist companies developing new transport or safety technologies.

The not-for-profit centre has already hosted a national meeting on telematics and a transport workshop.

ITS Australia executive director, Brent Stafford, said the application of intelligent transport systems technology in Australia could generate billions of dollars for the economy by streamlining freight management and transport vehicle scheduling as well as earn new export income because of lower transport costs.

Small suppliers could also facilitate the ITS to help develop intellectual property and interface with larger multinationals, he said.

"We could connect all the players together," Mr Stafford said.

ITS applications include advanced traffic management, real-time traffic information to drivers, automated alert systems for emergency services and freight matching to reduce empty trucks in transit.

Mr Stafford said the centre would also follow issues from a policy, regulatory, legislative and a deployment perspective "that are on the road map five years from now so we’ve got an answer".

It would bring together the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Australian Automobile Association and other relevant parties to help pursue policies relevant to the transport and car industries.

Mr Brumby said there were already a number of software development products being developed by the centre that were "very close to finalisation" and potential export markets were already being canvassed in Asia and Europe.

"ITS will help boost our development and uptake of intelligent transport systems, which has the potential to profoundly change transport systems with immense benefit," he said.

"It will deliver safer roads, with an estimated 717 lives saved over the next five years if the best of the strategies were put into practice.

"It will better manage traffic congestion, which already costs cities like the City of Melbourne $2 billion to $4 billion a year.

"And on the environmental side, ITS is estimated to reduce around 6.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year."

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