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.
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
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
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.