The truck telematics data project demonstrates the feasibility and value of industry sharing truck location data with government to generate multiple freight insights. This project contributes to our understanding of many enduring questions for freight, including:
There are two sources of telematics data visualised on the National Freight Data Hub prototype website. The two sources of the data are the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics and Transport Certification Australia.
Industry provides the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics data to government voluntarily. The two largest providers are Toll and Australia Post. Their decision to share data was taken as part of their corporate social responsibility agenda to facilitate benefits for all of industry. If you are a heavy vehicle operator and interested in sharing your data please get in touch.
Transport Certification Australia is the Australian entity responsible for administering the Intelligent Access Program and other applications of the National Telematics Framework. Transport Certification Australia is independent of government and collects industry telematics data. By de-identifying and aggregating the data, Transport Certification Australia provides certainty to stakeholders that transport operator and vehicle-specific data is protected from disclosure to other parties, commercially sensitive information is securely managed, and privacy-by-design principles are upheld. For further information please visit the Transport Certification Australia website.
This project has worked with stakeholders to obtain, process, visualise and share de-identified truck telematics data. By showcasing the capability of telematics data, this project aims to increase telematics-derived insights by encouraging industry to participate in sharing its data. By visualising data on the National Freight Data Hub and providing useful insights back to industry and governments, the benefits of sharing data can be realised for all parties.
Potential use cases for telematics data include:
Telematics data records times and locations of trucks on the network, from which vehicle speed can be calculated. In the visualisations shown on the prototype website, the highest speed on a road segment, which is usually late at night, is used to represent the uncongested free-flow speed. Congestion is then calculated, for each hour of the day, as the deviation from the free-flow speed. The longer it takes for a truck to drive through a road segment, the more congestion there is. This means:
The Transport Certification Australia and Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics datasets are not directly comparable except when comparing the same road segment for the same time period. Specifically, Transport Certification Australia use average speed while the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics use median speed, the sample sizes change over time, the two data sources cover different time periods and they sample road segments differently. These differences are most pronounced in the city-wide comparisons where the Transport Certification Australia and Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics results cover different roads and time periods.
There are other ways to calculate congestion. For example, free-flow speeds could be set equal to the posted speed limit on each road segment. However, posted speed limits are not currently available digitally for all roads in Australia. Other congestion metrics include journey time reliability (i.e. the measured variability in travel times), however, that measure has limitations, for example, reliability could decrease as both travel times improve (for example, the journey becomes faster due to an extra lane) and travel times increase (for example due to roadworks).
Some truck operators are interested in helping their customers understand the impact of congestion on their operations, and encourage greater use of freight transport services outside the most congested periods. This would assist with fleet optimisation, with trucks spending less time in congestion. Further consultation with industry will help refine the ‘congestion measures’.
Another strength of the data is that it provides a historic record of freight congestion. Other data and mapping services only provide short-lived real time congestion information on our roads.
While this data currently represents only a small percentage of the overall fleet, the insights demonstrate how valuable truck telematics data could be to inform investment planning, if industry participation grows and more trucks can be added to the sample.
The truck telematics data could also be used to supplement other sources of heavy vehicle traffic count data to better understand movements on the road network. For example, to calibrate information about speed and vehicle movements from traffic counters and to extrapolate movements more accurately across the network. This supports more efficient operations and planning for improvements across the network.
Regular stops and the opportunity for rest breaks are essential for safe driving, and heavy vehicle rest areas are provided to help drivers manage fatigue and comply with driving hours regulations (by providing an opportunity for sleep and rest breaks).
This Insight shows over 2,020 formal rest areas and their facilities, from state and territory open data sources, and the visualisation is focused on providing information about the level of activity at these locations. Stops made outside of these locations are not included.
The visualisation assists freight network planners to understand the origin and destination of heavy vehicle movements to improve network design and investment decisions.
The origins and destinations are calculated from when a truck has stopped in one location for more than one hour. However, not all stops of one hour will necessarily be the start (loading) or finish (unloading) of the freight. For example, stops of more than one hour at rest areas will break a journey and be recorded as both a trip end point (a destination) and a new trip start point (an origin).
This sample data illustrates some variations during the period. Additional analysis and data cleansing is underway to remove any potential variations due to data processing and analysis. However, the data may partly be reflecting some challenges faced by the community and transport sector between July 2019 and June 2020.
Where there are between 1-10 truck trips between two local government areas the visualisation will show ten trips were made. This is to deidentify movements between two geographies.
The telematics data doesn't include information on of the nature of the freight being moved and includes journeys made by trucks which might be empty as well as where trucks are being repositioned.
While this data currently represents only a small percentage of the overall fleet, the Insight demonstrates how valuable truck telematics data can be if industry participation grows. It is not recommended that the visualisation be used, at this time, for decision making as the data sample is too small.
The Transport Certification Australia data is visualised using Geoscape Australia base map road geometries, copyright and disclaimer information is available online. The Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics data is visualised using Open Street Map road geometries. It is not possible to combine the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics and Transport Certification Australia road datasets as the base map geometries used by the two datasets are different, and the de-identification and aggregation of the data makes projecting to another base map difficult. Rest area data for Transport Certification Australia and Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics was able to be combined as both datasets use longitude/latitude to specify the locations.
The visualisation was built using telematics data from heavy vehicles. Telematics uses satellite tracking and wireless communication technology to remotely monitor where, when and how heavy vehicles are being operated on the road network. Truck position data is generated by telematics devices which generate position records using the Global Navigation Satellite System, such as the Global Positioning System.
The majority of the Transport Certification Australia vehicles are enrolled in the Intelligent Access Program which have restricted access to the network. Further details about the classes of trucks with restricted access can be found on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator page.
The telematics data was de-identified and aggregated to ensure individual trucks or operators couldn’t be identified in the data.
The geographical areas for the capital cities are based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Greater Capital City Statistical Areas.
Telematics is a proven technology already used by multiple road managers to improve access decisions in Australia. Telematics offers road managers improved assurance in making access decisions through better visibility of restricted access heavy vehicles. This facilitates an expanded restricted access heavy vehicle network improving efficiencies and productivity for industry with greater visibility and assurance for road managers and communities.
Industry currently use telematics data to track in real time the location of their trucks and to assist with truck maintenance, for example to understand tyre wear and improve safety.
However, only a small proportion of transport operations see their historic vehicle movements which enables an analysis of trends. This is because it costs money to gather, store and visualise data for uncertain returns on time and investment.
Growing our small sample and making it more representative of the heavy vehicle fleet is a priority as it will improve the accuracy and usefulness of the visualisations. We are keen to work with fleet operators of both heavy trucks and light commercial vehicles moving freight to add more data, and help answer industry needs with new insights from the data. If you are interested in participating please get in touch.
Please refer to specific limitations of the visualisations above.