Road test for traffic incident management system

Monday, 31 January, 2011

NICTA and the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) have reaffirmed a research agreement under which they are developing new systems to improve the management of traffic incidents on the state’s roads. The agreement is part of the RTA’s ongoing commitment to improve incident responses, consistent with the Moroney Report on the F3 traffic incident in April 2010.

Working closely with the 24-hour Transport Management Centre (TMC) in Sydney, NICTA will help manage the workloads of TMC operators at times of peak demand, such as when a traffic accident occurs or special events demand road closures and rerouting of traffic. To do this, NICTA will apply unique technology which monitors the ‘cognitive load’ on individual operators in these situations, identifies incident-induced peaks in real time and manages them appropriately.

“Apart from helping to spread the load in critical situations, this will also help us understand how complex demands on operators affect the management of traffic incidents,” said Dr Fang Chen, NICTA Project Leader. “We will use the results of ongoing research to help the TMC to redesign work practices, systems and user interfaces.”

“Our Transport Management Centre operators respond to incidents that vary widely in type, volume and scale. Even with the most sophisticated computer systems, they always remain the most important part of any incident response. The assistance provided by NICTA under this agreement will help senior TMC staff to maintain a high level of operational efficiency throughout even the most demanding of situations,” said Phil Akers, Executive Director of the Transport Management Centre.

The NICTA technology continuously monitors such things as changes in the operator’s voice and speech patterns and is able to gauge from this an operator’s capacity to manage additional workload. In this way, emerging peak loads on the operator can be identified and mitigated.

“I am delighted that NICTA is making such an important contribution to keeping NSW traffic flowing smoothly,” said Dr Terry Percival, Director of NICTA’s Neville Roach Research Laboratory in Sydney.

The Transport Management Centre monitors 180,000 km of NSW roads 24 hours a day using advanced monitoring, communication and traffic flow systems that aim to make journey times more consistent, respond to and clear traffic incidents as fast as possible and help road users.

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