Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) is an agency of the Government of Western Australia that is responsible for implementing the State’s policies on road access and main roads. The organisation represents one of the world’s most expansive road networks, with its core responsibility to deliver and manage safe and efficient main road networks in WA through operations including building, maintaining, real-time management, providing traveller and road user information, and improving community amenity relating to road and transport use.
A key objective and responsibility for MRWA is to reduce traffic congestion by ensuring efficient operation of road networks. One of the ways it achieves this is by collecting road sensor data from a range of sources including traffic light systems and third-party data vendors. The MRWA Network Operations team process this data utilising NetPReS in order to get a view of the performance of major roads for every 15-minute period.
Whilst the existing NetPReS system that ingested and processed road network data worked reasonably well, it was not effectively maintainable by MRWA Analysts and was therefore becoming slowly less accurate. The system was also slow to query, with some reports taking over an hour to run. On top of this, the Network Operations team wanted to significantly expand the range and reach of NetPReS; for instance, adding coverage of local roads and including additional data sources.
The existing NetPReS system:
- Could not scale to handle the significant additional data volumes.
- Struggled to provide the performance required to process and report on the additional data sources.
- Was almost totally dependent on one third party contractor.
- Was not capable of performing advanced analytics and machine learning on the data – an integral part of the MRWA strategy to improve its services to road users.
Our Team at NRI were engaged by MRWA’s Network Operations group to perform an architectural analysis of the existing system and identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement and upgrades.
Following this, we developed a roadmap for the upgrade and improvement of NetPReS, developing a logical architecture for the upgraded system and performing a market scan to identify the most appropriate components and platforms. We then built a proof of concept to ensure the architecture and components were fit for purpose, and after obtaining IT approval for the technology, including arranging for new cloud environments and standards, we delivered a modernised data platform.
The end solution was a world class cloud data platform built on Microsoft Azure that would allow MRWA to ingest data from multiple and expandable data sources, process it, and store it for use in ongoing reporting and analysis.
Graham Jacoby, Network Operations Analysis Manager at MRWA, said “The system has enabled us to triple our number of data sources, with the data being more accurate and detailed. For example, the system now enables us to track to a high level of detail the congestion costs experienced by road users and has given us greater visibility across road networks which assists us with post project evaluations.”
Jacoby explained that these improvements help the organisation more accurately validate the impact of actions taken to improve the road user experience, to ultimately help them deliver on their business objectives.
“Our goal at Main Roads WA is ensure road users are safe, that they are kept informed of incidents or congestion, and that we continue to improve the performance of our road networks,” said Jacoby.
NetPReS (NetPReS 4) is state of the art solution that delivers significant business value and brings significant benefit to the people of Western Australia. With the successful roll-out, NetPReS has delivered the following business outcomes:
- Increased number of data sources, including road performance data sources and road conditions data sources (for example weather data).
- Improved ability to measure and influence road network performance.
- A maintainable system that can be managed by the MRWA Network Operations analyst team to ensure accuracy as road networks change.
- Capability to update data processing, using R Scripts developed and maintained by the Analyst Team.
- Queries that used to take an hour reduced to seconds, despite querying four times as much data.
- System can scale to add new data sources or data types, which can be added in less time and for less money.
- The ability to add advanced analytics and machine learning capability.
- A platform to develop future workloads, e.g., to process and act on real-time data, for a fraction of previous costs.
- Main Roads cloud data platform and approach that can be used to add future workloads.
The system has enabled us to triple our number of data sources, with the data being more accurate and detailed. For example, the system now enables us to track to a high level of detail the congestion costs experienced by road users and has given us greater visibility across road networks which assists us with post project evaluations.”