Victoria's first dedicated traffic analysis research centre will use real-time VicRoads data to develop new insights into traffic congestion - contributing to a reduction in traffic jams and accidents on Melbourne's roads.


The Swinburne Intelligent Transport Systems Laboratory, launched in a joint collaboration between VicRoads and Swinburne University of Technology, will analyse live traffic data to gain insight into network congestion and develop better mechanisms for managing car flows. The research will be fed directly back to VicRoads' head office in order to improve traffic management strategies, such as timing for traffic lights, variable speed limits and freeway ramp signals.


In the Netherlands, a cooperative traffic management centre has significantly reduced traffic accidents and congestion through a combination of data analysis and application of new technology - raising expectations that similar results could be achieved in Melbourne, according to the head of the lab, Associate Professor Hai Vu.


"Melbourne's motorists have good reason to be excited about this centre. The widespread use of smart phones and satellite navigation enables road users to access more information sooner. By utilising available information and helping drivers to make better decisions we expect to be able to significantly improve Melbourne's traffic flow," Associate Professor Vu said.


"As Melbourne's population continues to grow, traffic problems increase. This collaboration between VicRoads and Swinburne has the potential to get people home sooner and safer."

Analysis of traffic data across the city will enable the Laboratory to develop models on ways to improve traffic flow, relying on efficient communication of information within the transport network.


"Traffic congestion costs our economy billions of dollars in petrol and lost time each year. Helping our roads to flow more smoothly is a vital goal for our Lab - but will also have a significant environmental impact, with lower carbon emissions as people spend less time in their vehicles," Associate Professor Vu said.


"Most importantly, we hope our research makes a difference to everyday lives, enabling road users to reach their destination more quickly. Smart information use, underpinned by emerging information communication technologies can sound difficult and highly technical - but when we consider the benefits, it is always worthwhile."


The Laboratory was opened at the Beyond 2012 road safety forum, held at Swinburne.