The National ICT Australia (NICTA) has re-signed a research agreement with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to develop new traffic management technology.
NICTA will work with the RTA's 24-hour Traffic Management Centre based in Sydney to develop technology and practises that manage the flow of traffic around incidents, including accidents, floods and other disruptions.
Technology will be deployed to monitor and manage the workload of operational staff, such as identifying speech patterns in an operator's voice and gauging their ability to take on additional tasks, sending new incidents to another operator if the first is too busy.
"Apart from helping us to spread the load in critical situations, this will also help us understand how complex demands on operators affect the management of traffic incidents," said Dr Fang Chen, project leader with NICTA.
Phil Akers, executive director of the centre said that "Transport Management Centre operators respond to incidents that vary widely in type, volume and scale. Even with the most sophisticated computer systems, they remain the most important part of any incident response."
Akers told ZDNet Australia today that following a renovation of the centre completed late last year, headcount had increased to around 147 staff. Some of those were state public transport monitoring staff which had been integrated into the team.
"The centre does a lot more than just incident management. We handle major event planning, emergency planning, systems and host people who look after building and field infrastructure like [closed circuit television cameras] and variable message signs," Akers said.
As a result of the public transport management staff integration, Akers said that the Transport Management Centre is currently trialling a system that tracks and prioritises Sydney Buses at intersections if they fall behind schedule.
If a bus falls behind time and approaches an intersection, the Transport Management Centre systems will automatically prioritise that bus through traffic signals until it catches up with its schedule.
"All of the state transit buses are fitted with monitoring gear so they can be assisted if they fall behind time with the PTIPS system," said Akers.
The centre is also looking to more widely implement its automatic incident management system that will flag a traffic incident without it having to be reported by emergency services or motorists.
"We're doing trials with that type of technology and it's used quite frequently already, particularly in tunnels. We've been looking at how we can use that outside of a static tunnel environment."