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Credit: J Bar (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:J_Bar)/ CC BY 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

Credit: J Bar (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:J_Bar)/ CC BY 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

Transport for NSW organises hackathon to address congestion on Sydney roads

Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the lead government agency of the NSW (New South Wales) Transport cluster, organised a hackathon last month, from 23 March to 25 March, to tackle the problem of congestion on roads.

Road congestion causes frustration for road users and it directly impacts travellers and commuters by creating unreasonably long journey times, adversely impacting productivity, reliability and well-being. The greater cost, reduced time and increased pollution have wider economic, social and environmental impact respectively. The annual cost of Sydney’s congestion is estimated to be A$6.1 billion, taking into account lost productivity by those unable to access employment due to increased travel times, as well as the cost to business and their customers and the environmental impact of congestion.

It is difficult to eliminate congestion entirely, but it can be managed more effectively. The hackathon brought together industry, innovators, entrepreneurs, students and TfNSW staff to pitch ideas and build proof of concepts for dramatically improving congestion in and around Sydney. There were over 200 participants, forming more than 30 teams.

After 34 pitches, a winning and runner-up team were announced for both the Open and “In the Know” Teams. There were 22 teams for the open competition and 12 for the internal competition. The judging criteria included innovation, feasibility and easing congestion.

The winners received A$5000 to share across their team and the runners up received A$2000 to share across their team.

The winners

A project called Adaptive Mobility Behavioural Insights (AMBI) by Team SKY, was the winner for the In the Know (ITK) Category. The AMBI Project uses real time and historic travel data to display prompts in real time that inform customers of better times and ways to travel. It will leverage existing smart infrastructure, such as Variable Message Sign, Interchange announcements screens, and mobile apps, to prompt customers to reconsider their travel choices. This is expected to alleviate congestion and help match demand to transport capacity.

Team UNSW students were the runner-up with a project called Event Congestion Management, which seeks to dilute peak congestion by occupying patrons at public transport hubs which provides direct transportation to and from the venue to reduce the volume of private transportation. Locations are chosen based on vehicle capacity, distance and geographical location around Sydney.

An app called TransTrack was awarded the top prize in the Open Category. It is a reward-based camera application to help Transport Management Centre (TMC), better respond to key road incidents, leading to quicker response times to avoid bottlenecks. Opal dollars are rewarded to reporting pedestrians.

(Opal cards are smartcard tickets that people can keep, reload and reuse to pay for travel on public transport.)

A solution called goFlex, designed to educate and convince business owners about the reasons they should adopt remote/flexible working strategies, was the runner-up in the Open Category.

GoFlex uses a unique algorithm to calculate the huge amount of benefits and savings a business has access to by harnessing remote strategies. It presents this information through a personalised, engaging and informative interface. It aims to relieve congestion by reducing the need for physical proximity and encourages utilisation of existing technologies. 

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