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Traffic Management Centre’s data system up for sale

The State Government will seek to sell off the rights to its successful traffic management software AddInsight, saying its future use “extends far beyond” the administration’s core business.

Mar 06, 2020, updated Mar 06, 2020
Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Addinsight was developed by the Transport Department in 2012 and provides real-time and predictive updates on traffic movements and congestion by using beacons installed on the road network to identify movement of devices, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

In 2016, it was developed into an award-winning app for public use, letting users assess congestion and time delays on their chosen route.

 

Its creator, former DPTI engineer James Cox, welcomed the move to commercialise the software, saying: “It’s a process I’ve been wanting to happen for a few years.”

“I gave up waiting, so I left,” added Cox, who set up his own consultancy just last month.

“I just don’t think the Government’s a good place for software to be commercialised – it’s not geared up for doing marketing and I think that the system’s essentially stagnating being in government, because it’s not being promoted.”

He said the software was currently only marketed by “word of mouth”, and the system needs “someone who can actually have a software team behind it”, noting: “DPTI only has one software person – they don’t actually have a software team.”

Our James Cox took the stage at #ITSWC16 to talk about how we use Addinsight to detect, manage incidents on roads pic.twitter.com/FFXwZtkgkW

— SA Infrastructure & Transport (@DFIT_SA) October 13, 2016

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll told InDaily the Government would today release an Expression of Interest to the market for the future development of the Addinsight software, saying there was an opportunity to “turbo charge the service AddInsight provides by allowing private sector expertise, capital and creativity to further develop this technology”.

“Addinsight is an innovative approach to traffic management and the fact that it is now being used by other traffic management centres across the country is a testament to those involved in its development,” he said in a statement.

“Addinsight is operating in a dynamic and rapidly emerging market and the State Government does not believe taxpayers should continue to fund the development of this technology… there are potential options to use and expand the program into other markets, including logistics or queue management.

“It could also integrate with smart cities or other traffic and planning initiatives, or further synergise with other traffic management products, which should be explored to maximise its use and potential.

“As such, the future of Addinsight technology, software and uses extends far beyond core State Government business.”

But Cox said the push to go to market had stalled in recent years, after almost coming to fruition under former DPTI boss Michael Deegan, who was sacked by the incoming Liberal Government in 2018.

“It was close to going to cabinet just before the election, and then it all stopped again… it was all going ahead with Michael Deegan, but after the change of government he was removed and everything stalled,” Cox told InDaily.

“I’ve been waiting for years… Deegan could see leaving it in government was going to stagnate the system. It needs someone to take it over that has lots of resourcing – there are quite a few companies out there in that sort of space.”

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He said the software was originally developed as a planning initiative for the North South corridor, but has since moved under the purview of the Traffic Management Centre.

“The system’s essentially just grown and grown,” he said.

“At the moment it’s essentially used all over Australia, but it hasn’t really expanded out of Australia, because of that whole word of mouth thing… it needs a bit of investment in trying to get a deal done overseas.”

He said users across Australia have expanded their use “once they see evidence it does what we say it does”.

“Vic Roads started with 10 sites, now they’ve got 1600,” he noted.

The software captures data that is de-identified, aggregated and utilised by the Traffic Management Centre to monitor and improve traffic flow.

Knoll said the Government remained “open and flexible as to the potential structure of AddInsight through this process” but would “seek conditions that will retain data security provisions as well as guaranteeing continued use of the Addinsight data for the betterment of the state”.

“The Government will also seek to provide ongoing support to the potential third party by way of enabling the Adelaide network to be used as a test-bed for ongoing enhancements to the software,” he said.

“Addinsight will continue to operate as normal and the Government is committed to providing the same level of service that is currently provided to existing customers.”

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