Transport is, and always has been, a complicated space. But in recent times we’ve moved away from the niceties of small numbers of participants managing to exist together, to a system under stress, with an explosion in users and providers.
Increased patronage demands greater efficiencies than siloed-operations can deliver. Add to this, the rate of technological change means that organisations no longer have sufficient capability to solve problems on their own.
The answer? In a word, collaboration. Faced with the demands of the coming transport revolution, collaboration has never been so necessary as it is now.
Consider the new levels of connectivity heading our way. Given the growing two-way communications between infrastructure and vehicles we will be accessing vastly more information on what’s happening with the network, and what’s happening with the movement of people and freight.
Then consider the reality. All of this sharing crosses traditional boundaries. It demands that organisations open their borders. For example – the communications between infrastructure and vehicles establishes exchanges between customers, road authorities, vehicle manufacturers, road builders, urban planners, transport authorities, telecommunication providers, network managers and planners, data analysts, … to name but a few.
The main goals of these participants is to maximise their efficiencies and minimise congestion. The only way to deliver these goals is through collaboration. If they’re not co-operating, not sharing data they may prevent, rather than achieve the desired outcomes.
Collaboration and alliances are of course nothing new, but the breadth, depth and speed of change is quite a gear change. Tony Canavan, Global Government Transport Leader Ernst & Young, who spoke at our recent Transport of Tomorrow Symposium had this to say about collaboration:
“… in this digital age it seems that everyone understands and accepts that collaboration is a key part of a business model. Perhaps some of that came from the tech sector, with its use of open source code, where change was built on top of ideas, with a type of exponentiality achieved in that sector through this sharing model that hadn’t previously existed.
The prerequisites for success in collaboration, is primarily about relationships and people. But it needs more than that I think, especially in larger organisations. In such places there does need to be a strategy that recognises the need for collaboration.
But there also needs to be empowerment, and the permission to fail, and sometimes different business rules for different parts of an organisation. That’s much deeper. That’s behavioural and cultural change, so while collaboration is a great thing, for many organisations it doesn’t happen, especially in a natural way.”
Tony went on to say that, ‘In this age, it’s not mandatory to collaborate, but if you’re not at least thinking about it, then you probably ought to be.’
All of this speaks directly to our experience here at iMOVE. We encourage the interaction between government, research, and industry entities. However, they all speak different languages, so we spend a lot of time teaching people how to translate, and other languages, how to understand and respect the variety of views and positions that are brought into the collaboration.
Bringing all of that together we concentrate on making sure that, for the purposes of the project, the objective is clear, and all of the players share that objective. A common objective and respect for a diversity of views are the two most important ingredients.
We talk to our current participants often. We’re also talking to potential new participants. And not only are we talking, we’re actively bringing people and entities together at events, such as our recent workshops on Vulnerable Road Users, and Creating Value From Better Use of Transport Data, and then last month (March 2019) at our inaugural Transport of Tomorrow Symposium.
We know that embracing technology is essential to improving the ways Australians, and freight, move around our transport networks. We also know the effective implementation of technology relies on collaboration.
iMOVE encourages collaboration in the transport space. It’s in our DNA. Our 18 projects with 44 partners demonstrate this … and there’s more projects and participants to come!
We challenge you to reach out to other parties, and us, to realise the benefits of collaboration.
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Author: Ian Christensen
Ian is the Managing Director of iMove CRC. He’s excited by the opportunity presented by the digitisation revolution to address the needs of the transport and mobility sectors, and looks forward to combining his CRC leadership experience with his interests in technology, enthusiasm for national progress, and familiarity with industry.