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Digital Transformation in Government Insight #69:
Data and technology transforming roads

There are lots of ways in which digital transformation is changing our roads. Today we look at two case studies — one that focuses on road maintenance for a local council in Australia and one that improves road safety in the US.

Salsa Digital 30 October 2018

Digital transformation on the road

There are many examples from around the world that show how governments are using technology to transform roads and transport. From more and more digital displays at public transport stops that show how far away your train/tram/bus is, to major road safety initiatives. These transformations can be seen at local, state/territory and federal government levels.

Road maintenance — local Aussie council

A recent road maintenance project in NSW’s Lake Macquarie Council has transformed the way the council and contractors work on local roads.

The Council has developed a mobile app that enables better management of the Council’s large network of roads. Through the app, staff log jobs and allocate them to field staff. Field staff can then take photos of the road and add notes, instructions and updates. The system also means if someone calls council to report a pothole or other problem, customer service can check the location to see if the problem has already been reported/logged. If it has, they can update local citizens on its status.

The new app is part of Lake Macquarie Council’s digital economy strategy.

Road safety — US

Road safety issues used to be prioritised from hardcopy crash stats and more anecdotal evidence of safety hotspots. Nowadays, data and technology can provide a much clearer picture of safety issues.

The state of Utah in the US is a great case study. It uses big data to improve road safety. Engineers in Utah’s Department of Transportation analyse road and crash data using tools like Numetric, which is designed to improve road safety and provide transport engineers with the information they need to make informed, data-driven decisions.

Numetric pulls data from a variety of sources, to identify hotspots and help engineers prioritise work.

In addition to Numetric, Utah’s Department of Transportation also uses data from other sources, such as the United States Road Assessment Program (usRAP).

The use of data in this way marks a shift from anecdotal information to hard data.

Salsa Digital’s take

There are, of course, many more examples of how roads, traffic management and public transport are using technology to transform services and citizen experiences. The Lake Macquarie Council and Utah Department of Transportation are just two recent examples.

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