On the Move

Data drives smart transport decisions

A device that counts pedestrians, people on bikes and scooters, skateboarders – even dogs! – is the latest in a stream of smart transport initiatives rolled out by Hamilton City Council over the past financial year.

The Aware AI for Pathways counter, co-developed with local tech company Aware Group, allows staff to measure and analyse activity on our pathways across the city in a cost-effective way. “It is solar powered and easy to install to a nearby streetlight pole,” said Hamilton City Council’s City Transportation Manager Robyn Denton.

“The information collected through the counters allows us to make decisions backed by real data, analyse how changes impact usage, monitor patterns in foot traffic in front of businesses and much more. The devices have received a lot of interest, with two other New Zealand cities already placing orders for them,” said Denton.

Within Council’s City Transportation Unit, a small team has designed several other initiatives like the counter, in partnership with local companies.

In the past year, the team has developed the Transport Data Analytics Platform (TDAP) – the first of its kind in New Zealand. TDAP is an innovative system that automatically monitors the transport network and identifies incidents in real time.

The system combines six live data sources to provide traffic operators with instant text alerts when problems are detected in the network, like traffic congestion or faulty traffic signals, allowing staff to be more responsive including after hours and on weekends.

Council is also upgrading the city’s traffic signal controllers and will be the first city in New Zealand to adopt the technology, which increases reliability, safety, and has other smart features. Alongside this, it is also adopting a proactive approach to optimising the city’s transport corridors.

“The focus is initially on key bus route corridors such as Te Rapa Road and Mill Street. The work completed to date has already resulted in a 30% reduction in travel time along these routes,” said Denton.

Council has also developed a system that reduces delays to key bus services in the city such as the Comet, and deployed a CCTV analytics system called BriefCam, which makes better use of existing cameras to provide insights on vehicle movements, pedestrian and cycle counts, and how pedestrians move about and use public spaces.

“Having a smart transport network that is adaptable and resilient to change is a crucial component to its successful operation. It means we can not only optimise the existing system, but also minimise disruptions when unplanned events occur,” said Denton.

With this significant increase in capturing and using data and insights for transport in Hamilton, numerous dashboards are now available to the public, including an open data portal.

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