ABOUT MAIN ROADS WA
Main Roads Western Australia (Main Roads) is an agency of the Government of Western Australia. Its role is to plan, build, maintain and operate Western Australia’s State Road Network valued at more than $47 billion. In delivering these services Main Roads work closely with its portfolio partners, the Department of Transport and the Public Transport Authority as well as local government to support the needs of all road users across the state by providing an integrated world-class road transport network. Main Roads is one of the most geographically dispersed road agencies in the world, responsible for more than 18,500 kilometres of road spread over 2.5 million square kilometres.
Main Roads aspiration is to “provide world class outcomes for the customer through a safe, reliable and sustainable road-based transport system”. This is achieved through Keeping WA Moving, which sets its future direction that has the following four areas that create a focus on delivering value, based on customer and stakeholder needs.
The focus in each area is:
- Customers: Provide a transport network centred on what customers need and value
- Movement: Improve mobility of people and the efficiency of freight
- Sustainability: Develop a sustainable transport network that meets social, economic and environmental needs
- Safety: Provide improved safety outcomes for all users of the transport network
Main Roads needed to upgrade and refine its existing production Proof of Concept (PoC) Network Performance Reporting System (NetPRes) in order to improve its services to road users. In conjunction with ASG, Main Roads determined the need for a modern cloud data platform that would provide a faster, more accessible, and scalable system that would give its Network Operations team a better view of the performance of major roads using Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning.
The main responsibility and key objective within the four strategic areas of focus from Keeping WA Moving, is to reduce traffic congestion by ensuring efficient operation of road networks.
One of the ways it achieves this is by collecting road sensor data from a range of sources including traffic light systems and third-party data vendors. The Main Roads Network Operations team process this data utilising NetPReS in order to get a view of the performance of major roads for every 15-minute period. Whilst the existing NetPReS system that ingested and processed road network data worked reasonably well, it was not effectively maintainable by Main Roads Analysts and was therefore becoming slowly less accurate. The system was also slow to query, with some reports taking over an hour to run. On top of this, the Network Operations team wanted to significantly expand the range and reach of NetPReS; for instance, adding coverage of local roads and including additional data sources.
However, the existing NetPReS system:
- Could not scale to handle the significant additional data volumes,
- Struggled to provide the performance required to process and report on the additional data sources, and;
- Was almost totally dependent on one third party contractor.
The existing platform was also not capable of performing advanced analytics and machine learning on the data. This was an integral part of the MRWA strategy to improve its services to road users.
ASG were engaged by Main Roads Network Operations group to perform an architectural analysis of the existing system and then to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement and upgrades. ASG then developed a roadmap for the upgrade and improvement of NetPReS, developing a logical architecture for the upgraded system and performing a market scan to identify the most appropriate components and platforms.
ASG then built a proof of concept to ensure the architecture and components were fit for purpose. After obtaining IT approval for the technology, including arranging for new cloud environments and standards, ASG delivered a modernised data platform. The end solution was a world class cloud data platform built on Microsoft Azure that would allow MRWA to ingest data from multiple and expandable data sources, process it, and store it for use in ongoing reporting and analysis.
Graham Jacoby, Network Operations Analysis Manager at Main Roads, said “The system has enabled us to increase our number of data sources, with the data being more accurate and detailed.
For example, the system now enables us to track to a high level of detail the congestion costs experienced by road users and has given us greater visibility across road networks which assists us with post project evaluations.”
Jacoby explained that these improvements help the organisation more accurately validate the impact of actions taken to improve the road user experience, to ultimately help them deliver on their business objectives.
“Our goal at Main Roads WA is ensure road users are safe, that they are kept informed of incidents or congestion, and that we continue to improve the performance of our road networks,” said Jacoby.
- Modern Azure cloud data platform rolled out to Network Operations team.
- Increased number of data sources, including road performance data sources and road conditions data sources (for example weather data).
- Improved ability to measure and influence road network performance.
- A maintainable system that can be managed by the MRWA Network Operations analyst team to ensure accuracy as road networks change.
- Capability to update data processing, using R Scripts developed and maintained by the analyst team.
- Queries that used to take an hour reduced to seconds, despite querying four times as much data.
- System can scale to add new data sources or data types, which can be added in less time and for less money.
- The ability to add advanced analytics and machine learning capability.
- A platform to develop future workloads, e.g. to process and act on real-time data, for a fraction of previous costs.
- Main Roads cloud data platform and approach that can be used to add future workloads.
Following successful design, development and roll out, ASG continue to provide on-going support for the system.
ASG has been providing comprehensive support for Main Roads Application Systems environment in conjunction with their Information Management Branch (IMB) team for many years.
The new NetPReS (NetPReS 4) is a great example of ASG and IMB teaming together and working with Microsoft to design, build and support a complex, state of the art solution that delivers significant business value and brings benefit to the people of Western Australia.
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