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Aiming for the stars: David Hensher

David Hensher has produced over 700 formal publications – including 18 books – on transportation and econometrics, and since founding the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies in 1990, he and his team have made major advancements in global interfaces between transportation logistics and supply chain management.

“What I really focus on increasingly is the interfaces between transportation, logistics and supply chain from a policy and strategy perspective, and trying to make sure that what we do in academia gets translated into sensible recommendations that the government and industry might want to take on,” he says. “One of the really important areas that my institute and I have developed is new software tools, so that on the demand side, people can study how people or organisations make choices and what sort of data is needed.”

David also runs a consultancy firm based in New York, which he says has become the most popular software package of its kind in the world.

“It is based around computer software and involves demand forecasting and understanding how people make choices,” he says. “We’ve got over eight thousand sites around the world.”

Over the years, David has also worked closely with governments for several major transportation projects. More recently, he was involved with the high-speed rail projects in Sydney and Melbourne where he forecasted demand and looked at the impact it would have on the viability of the project. In addition, he has held several appointments with Transport for NSW since 1996.

“We have a strong partnership and we provide a lot of advice to them,” he says. “We’ve done a lot of work on tracking the impact of working from home on transport infrastructure needs and land use plans going forward, especially the switch from motorised to non-motorised modes as we live locally more. That’s a really important area, because that has some of the strongest unintended positive consequences of any transport policy we’ve ever had.”

David has also played a massive part in future mobility options with a highlight on the integration of passenger and freight modal activity designed to lower emissions.

“The best example is the work we’re doing with Volvo, with the birth to death cycle of pollution and emissions when it comes to decarbonisation,” he says. “I think there’s so much focus on emissions at the tailpipe of trucks and buses and cars, but there’s not enough focus on the other emissions that are being generated in the production process and even the reverse logistics in the disposal process.”

Earlier this year David was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to transport and supply chain management, which he believes was a recognition of his contribution to Australia.

“In some sense it’s an accumulation of what I’ve done,” he says. “I have the highest impact from anyone in the world in terms of transportation impacted by research. I’m now ranked the number one economist in Australia and 57th in the world in terms of the impact of my research, which is great. But more importantly, what I think I’m leaving is a legacy of an institute which is generally regarded as the best in Australia and in the top 10 globally.”

Industry Innovators
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers, Industry Innovators is a series dedicated to honouring the individuals who are transforming the commercial road transport industry.

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