Days after unveiling the NSW Future Transport Technology Roadmap, Andrew Constance addressed the Salesforce Government Speaker Series.

Tech will increasingly have a central role in the future of transport in NSW, according to NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance. Salesforce has been working with Transport for NSW to help deliver improved customer services for 18 months, and Minister Constance addressed the Salesforce Government Speaker Series on Friday 4 November, just days after he unveiled the NSW Future Transport Technology Roadmap.

A customer focused Roadmap

The Roadmap brings the focus clearly to the customer – we’re increasingly hearing and talking about the need for the public sector agencies to offer customer experiences on par with those of other businesses – and Minister Constance spoke of three key objectives:

  • Improving customer experience

  • Connecting communities

  • Transforming services

The Roadmap sets out several initiatives aimed at taking advantage of emerging technology to achieve these objectives, including:

  • Developing and connecting real-time digital information, navigation, payment and engagement platforms so they are easier to understand and use, and can give personalised, individual service.

  • Transforming mass-transit networks to improve efficiency and service frequency, and reduce transit times, making these services more attractive to our customers.

  • Fostering shared demand-responsive services to give customers greater choice of mobility options and flexibility to match their needs.

  • Pursuing national standards for the road infrastructure, systems and regulatory frameworks needed to adopt greater levels of vehicle automation earlier, and identifying how best to deliver community benefits that autonomous vehicles will bring.

  • Creating intelligent transport networks managed with data that enable increasingly efficient, flexible and dynamic service delivery with improved safety, availability, reliability and responsiveness.

On a practical level, the Roadmap includes plans to conduct a trial of on-demand public transport services that could lead to the elimination of timetables. The trial would cover buses, trains, trams and ferries. Data including typical travel habits, weather and special events would inform real-time public transport planning changes.

It also includes plans to extend the Opal public transport card to pay for other services like road tolls, taxis and ride-sharing services, to establish a new Smart Innovation Centre to explore new road safety technology, and to develop and trial connected and autonomous vehicles.

Under this plan, the government would also explore developing advanced analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities to manage road and public transport networks. While government is the custodian of enormous data sets, ideally these would be used by developers and businesses as an adjunct to government-provided services.

“Transport is a tech business; government should get out of the way and let the experts like yourselves innovate,” Minister Constance said. “Government should not be delivering the solution, by rights. I think we have an important role in terms of making sure everyone’s safety is protected, compliance and facilitating it, but I don’t think we should be delivering it.”

Salesforce Government Speaker Series

At the Salesforce Government Speaker Series, Minister Constance’s sat down with Sassoon Grigorian, Salesforce’s Head of Public Policy for Australia and New Zealand, for a further chat about the connections between transport planning and tech.

SG: The Technology Roadmap that you’ve just launched looks like a tech company’s roadmap for a product. Can you tell us more about this?

AC: It’s crazy times we live in – tech advancements are transforming our lives. Seven years ago the NSW Government was going to take an app to court for revealing delays in public transport – look how far we’ve come.

We need to be agile, it’s about pushing the boundaries so we can innovate and flourish. There are failures that have come about because we failed to keep up.

Transport is a technology business. And if we have on-demand movies, why can’t we have on-demand journeys and transport, with no need for a timetable.

SG: Are there other global cities that Sydney should look up to when addressing transport issues?

AC: We have our own unique character in Sydney but back in July I took a nine-day trip through Asia to promote what we are doing in NSW. I also met with Land and Transport agencies there, and I learnt a lot.

Let’s look at other outcomes and what’s relevant for us – we have some of the best minds here, we need to harness innovation here and take learnings from the world.

SG: We talk about cars being less like products and more like a software, are there other initiatives government should be working with to harness these developments?

AC: With the advent of automation, we can massively reduce death toll rates, and road rules and policies will be changed. We don’t want to be ‘Ubered’, we want to be ready for it.

I want to see personalised information, using tech so users don’t have to think and plan. I want to move to contactless payment – that is where we are trying to push transport and Opal to. Everyone in transport needs to think differently, we need to be pushing innovation.

The only road to success is putting the customer at the centre of the entire organisation and this is clearly the focus of the NSW Government at the moment.

To find out more about how to do this, download our ebook ‘6 ways to connect your entire business around the customer’.