Project boom in the Age of Zoom
If you’ve been following our announcements of new projects, you’ll know that we added substantially to our portfolio last year with 45 new projects signed up. iMOVE is now delivering $10 million of project activity per year, and we appreciate the effort that our industry and research partners are putting in to make this happen.
This is despite many of our partners being significantly impacted by COVID restrictions. Despite COVID, or perhaps because of it, there are many new opportunities emerging to harness new technology to the movement of people and goods. Some of these are described below.
The high level of activity has also boosted the satisfaction that participants have with iMOVE. The overall satisfaction rating from our June 2021 survey was 84%; our highest score to date.
iMOVE hopes and expects to maintain the current high level of project activity. To support partners to quickly establish new projects iMOVE is currently recruiting an additional person into our project formation team.
iMOVE’s education programs
Another aspect of iMOVE’s activities that is growing strongly is education. Our Undergraduate Student Industry Program, which gives final year students opportunities to do a real-world project with an industry partner, has been strongly subscribed this year with 64 students taking part.
Additionally, our recruitment of PhD studies has also been progressing strongly. We hope to sign up our 40th candidate in the coming months. Our cohort of students is now quite large, and to better support them iMOVE has now appointed an Education Manager. Please join with me in welcoming Frazer Thorpe to the iMOVE team. Frazer will ensure our education activities add value to both our students and partners. We hope the iMOVE education program will contribute much needed skills and employment-ready graduates to the industry.
This additional staffing ensures that we are well resourced to support you – our existing and future partners – to get new projects off the ground. We have many conversations underway regarding future research including the ones described below. If any of these strike a chord with you and you want to get involved please reach out to us.
Safety and accessibility of public transport
Providing safe, efficient, and accessible public transport is a high priority for departments of transport. We’ve recently started a number of projects in this area, including:
- Promoting sustainable university travel choices
- Melbourne tram load estimation and real-time load prediction
- ODIN PASS: A Mobility as Service trial at UQ
- Innovative local transport: Community transport of the future
We also recently interviewed the makers of the She’s A Crowd app, a tool to help governments make transport safer for women by shining a light on gender-based violence. I encourage you to read the article to understand more about their crowd-sourced approach.
While it is uncertain when commuters will return to public transport en masse, there has been a surge in active transport over the last 18 months. Restrictions on movement and activities during lockdowns have seen us walking, cycling, and scootering in much greater numbers. But will this change when some return to the office, with the added consequence of more cars on the road? And will there be change in that it’s easier for commuters to combine public and active transport?
Mobility as a Service: Sharing = success
It’s vital for interplay to exist between public and active transport. Our MaaS projects will encourage this fusion of modes. MaaS is a catalyst for modes to share the breadth of choice and offer flexibility in its ecosystem. MaaS is the sum of its parts, and the more seamless the ecosystem is, the more its chance of success. Sharing is, for operators and modes, the cost of membership. Sharing is at the core of everything that is MaaS – modes, payment systems, and, most important of all, sharing data.
Data, change, and decisions
Perhaps the biggest issue now in public transport is encouraging its (safe) use post-pandemic, or as we move along Australia’s various roadmaps away from lockdowns. It would appear there’s a reasonably strong appetite to continue the big societal change that is remote working. If remote working does indeed stay as a wide choice, will living more local result in a higher degree of active transport modes?
For planning and implementation data is already absolutely key in all of this, but I cannot help but think the need of data – good data – and the sharing of it, must be made even more a priority.
We are I think now, more than ever, in a set of circumstances in which there is both a need and an appetite for change. Data will fuel change, and point it in the right directions.
The growing hydrogen discussion
Hydrogen, and other alternative fuels, are hot topics right now, especially given its potential to play a role in reducing carbon emissions. We need to understand more about the economics and safety of hydrogen as a fuel source, and it is pleasing to see more reports and white papers on such topics appearing.
There appears to be strong consensus that we need to get on with trialling hydrogen-powered trucks. iMOVE is keen to facilitate this. However, sourcing suitable trucks is proving difficult. Needless to say, I am keen to talk to truck manufacturers and suppliers, to see if we can get this moving.
Talk to me
I know quite a deal I’ve said here is a tease of possibilities, but the discussions iMOVE is having are both broad and interesting.
Do you have a project idea that fits this envelope? If you do, I invite you to get in touch with me for a chat.