After a series of initiatives where trucking operators hand over their telematics data in return for regulatory concessions, it is probably time to ask the question, how much is your data worth?
This question could also be asked of the billions of Facebook, TikTok and Twitter users who are providing considerable data to those companies in return for being able to abuse or amuse their friends online.
However, in the trucking world, this is business. If you allow your data to be anonymised and sent through to the road authorities, you will be able to run longer, heavier vehicles on certain routes. This has done wonders for transport productivity where it has been designed properly.
Although this was originally confined to certain areas and certain sectors, the trend is for the allowances and the data collection to get wider and wider over time. The latest is a deal between Transport Certification Australia (TCA) and the National Bulk Tanker Association (NBTA) to hand over telematics data on bulk dangerous goods movements all over Australia.
There is also a similar deal with construction industry transport involved in large scale data sharing. There is certainly a lot of value in this information for everyone involved. Being able to put a bit more pudding on the truck is an instant productivity gain.
For the authorities it is a goldmine of information. Road managers always assume the worse, and set limits on infrastructure based on a worst case scenario, with some added restrictions just to be on the safe side.
The bridge in Gundagai on the Hume Highway is a case in point. The mass limit was 68 tonnes and there were lane restriction in place for trucks to help save the structure from premature wear. However, Transport for NSW actually collected data on what was crossing the bridge and when.
This realtime data was actually collected with a set of monitoring devices and showed what was really happening. The result was the realisation that the bridge was not taking the hammering the engineers were calculating, and now the bridge is open to A-doubles up to 85 tonnes.
This data collection saved NSW road funding millions of dollars. This kind of calculation will be happening all across the network as the data flows in. Millions will be saved and productivity will grow. Perhaps the trucking industry should start to charge the authorities for their data? It would certainly be worth it.
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