Data’s potential for intelligent transport systems

September 7th, 2017, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The Intelligent Transport Society South Africa (ITSSA) revisited a data theme at their annual general meeting in Pretoria in August 2017, with data provider AfriGIS’s managing director Magnus Rademeyer delivering the keynote address.

Rademeyer explained that many challenges around location sourcing and networks have subsided in recent years, making geographic information a mere question of the cost of access. Today, he said, the value lies in combining data at scale for insight.

Tommy Snyman, AfriGIS Magnus Rademeyer and Paul Vorster.

Tommy Snyman, Magnus Rademeyer and Paul Vorster.

Overlaying cellular network and census data with car tracker and other data for example can help identify peak and off-peak traffic flow patterns, as well as the distances people travel to destinations so as to determine accessibility to cities. Adding data layers such as the location of fire stations, educational institutions, health facilities or waterbodies adds new dimensions and applications to this data, he added.

Where it gets interesting, Rademeyer said, is how this merged data can now be used to influence behaviour – such as customising sms campaigns to select audiences. He stressed however the importance of privacy, preference and permission when working with individuals’ data.

The quest is now for real-time data, something that the internet of things will help make possible by adding further context to location. Already the company offers weather data along with their other data products, a useful real-time data layer which enables new applications and insight.

In response to a question from the floor Rademeyer also said that traditional data gathering methods like traffic counts still have a place, for example in refining data quality. New forms of data, such as those generated by internet of things devices, also come with challenges, not least of which to distinguish IoT sensors from each another for specific applications.

ITSSA’s CEO, Paul Vorster, said that the society looks beyond mere electronic and technological solutions, and takes a broader focus which incorporates information and other integrated solutions. The society also elected a new board, with Huawei’s Tommy Snyman as its president for the next two terms.