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Here Technologies: the here and now

The influence of data and technology on industry is accelerating


As Australia takes tentative steps in freight data collection – such as the creation of a National Freight Data Hub – overseas, advances have been rapid.

Some of these developments were spotlighted by Amsterdam-headquartered Here Technologies – which collects data in more than 200 countries, including Australia – at its 2019 Transport & Logistics Tech Day.

The location intelligence specialist outlines how specific freight mapping can assist operators, particularly around route optimisation, asset utilisation and last-mile service, taking into account real-time and historic traffic conditions, truck-related restrictions, approved networks and specific location data – right down to a user’s depot, “which we know often is the bottleneck”.

Core to Here’s operations is its data collection car, comprising an array of cameras capturing 360-degree street views, along with position sensors and laser technology for 3D modelling.

Majority-owned by a consortium of German automotive companies (namely Audi, BMW, and Daimler), a recent development has involved obtaining direct access to live sensor data from those makers’ new vehicles to deliver a real-time content flow of conditions and incidents.

Here Oceania sales and business development director Daniel Antonello, pictured below, tells ATN that Australia has historically lagged behind in this space – but that is slowly changing.

“It has been traditionally difficult to understand where heavy vehicles are travelling on the approved network but this has now become possible with the increase in telematics data being collected from vehicles.

“Similar information used to create our historic and live data is now being used to determine where trucks are travelling on the network and at what time of day and day of year.

“We have already extracted basic information about road and region popularity to support our map building and maintenance efforts, however we have the means to drill deeper.”



So, why is freight data more important now than ever?

Here senior vice president and Asia Pacific general manager Stanimira Koleva cites a lack of correlation between the growth in Australia’s fleet and its productivity.

“It doesn’t go the same way. We’ve had, on average, an increase of about 20 per cent in commercial vehicles for the last seven to eight years – at the same time, there’s only a 5 per cent increase in the freight that’s being transported,” she tells ATN.

“This shows you the disparity between the rate at which people invest in commercial vehicles and the productivity they get out of them.”

With limitations about road infrastructure and congestion in the face of a growing freight task, data can bring about efficiency gains.

Koleva acknowledges the cost of the technology has been prohibitive in the past, but as “the big freight operators deploy processes to allow for logistics management of their fleets, smaller operators want to be part of that”.

“It’s a classic challenge that some other industries also have, like the hotel industry, where high-tech solutions traditionally have been much more accessible for the larger operators, while the longer tail, if you will, has limited access for various reasons,” she says.

“I believe that technology, the speed at which we see new things developing, will make it much more accessible in terms of the actual capital outlay needed.

“We need to get them included from a technology point and connected to common platforms in the industry, so they can get more efficiency in providing more manageability and predictability around how they deliver their services.

“That will be a good economic incentive for them to consider. I don’t think the cost part of it will be that prohibitive going forward.”

Here car.JPG


Along with increasing operators’ service capabilities and competitiveness, another step is using data to improve infrastructure investment and urban planning.

“It’s a topic I personally feel very passionate about,” Koleva says.

“We, as a society, need some new solutions around the quite prominent trends of urbanisation and concentration of population.

“I saw the top 20 mega cities at the moment are home for 75 per cent of the world’s companies.

“When business is concentrated so much in and around big cities, it’s natural that people migrate that way.

“So on both sides, how do we deal with the increased demand and deliver reasonable services within cities, while dealing with some of the rural areas which are left sparsely populated?

“Then we also have challenges with resources and the implications of pollution.

“Planning is very important and we are part of delivering capabilities around, for example, digital twins, which essentially allow city planners to not only try to plan for the future, but also simulate cases around traffic flows, resource management, utilities and even emergencies.”

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Koleva’s view is autonomy will inevitably play a major role many areas, with another area of focus being on advancing next-generation maps readable by self-driving cars.

“Autonomous vehicles are something that maybe once sounded still a little futuristic, but many of our automotive customers have vehicles either in production or almost ready for production.

“And many industry players are now looking at, along with city management, how to resolve the coexistence challenges of autonomous and people-driven vehicles, which we believe will last for probably about 15 years.

“We also need to figure out how to deliver general autonomous services in many areas, not just transportation, but also healthcare, resource management and real-time management of cities and services.

“We believe in general that’s going to be powered on the backend by billions of data sensors that will be flowing in real time, and smarter algorithms to help us optimise and make sense of it.”

While that may seem a long way away, the wheels are firmly in motion.


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