Last week I took a step outside my comfortable world of spatial and attended the annual Trafinz conference in Hamilton with my transport colleagues from Abley. The theme of this year's conference was ‘Smart, safe and accessible places’ and was attended by 250+ transport planners and engineers from across the country. I was keen to attend because I wanted to identify opportunities where spatial analysis could be used to help solve transportation-related challenges and add more value to solutions.
It’s always interesting to attend a conference which is outside your own area of expertise - not only do you not know the subject matter, chances are that you don’t know the conference attendees, which means you have to put yourself out there and make an effort to talk to as many people as possible.
I found the diverse range of presentations at Trafinz thought-provoking. The challenges faced by transport professionals in trying to protect our communities from death and serious injury on the roads is confronting. At the same time, having to deal with policy and guidance frameworks that have struggled to keep pace with the changes in transport modes, technology, or economic demands that seem in conflict with those for safety was a common theme.
I found it interesting at Trafinz that the attendees are all transport professionals, so presenters were generally preaching to the converted. The message that the presenters at the conference delivered so well, also needs to be heard by urban planners, politicians, developers, architects, landlords, business owners, school governors community groups, indeed pretty much anyone who lives and breathes. So that is where I saw the greatest opportunity for spatial information and technology.
Esri tools like Collector and Survey123 are already deployed by the Abley transportation team to engage with stakeholders to improve the efficiency and spatial accuracy of data collection, but in speaking to other transport professionals, it seemed that this was by no means a common occurrence. Tools like Storymaps are also a great way of engaging with the community and other participants, to share plans, future visions and to gain buy-in. The simple combination of multimedia, maps and 3D content provide a great engagement platform to demonstrate a plan and collect feedback, and to actively engage other professionals and decision makers.
The message from Trafinz is clear - to reduce death and serious injury on our roads, things have to change. However that change requires a wholesale engagement from government, business and the community, and in my view using spatial tools to help with that engagement is a great way forward!
Featured Image: The Abley team with Glenn Bunting (NZ Transport Agency) with the Trafinz Leadership Award - Road Safety achieved for 'Megamaps'
Article written by Chris Morris, Spatial ＆ Technology Group Manager