Intelligent transport potential for New Zealand

27 Mar 2018

Self-driving cars, smart cities and drones could be an emerging success story for New Zealand, if the potential for the growth of the intelligent transport sector here is identified, harnessed and developed.

Technology in transport can be used to solve problems in practical ways - improving congestion, increasing effectiveness of deliveries and having fewer deaths on our roads each year.

And the time is right to harness New Zealand’s comparative advantage for developing and testing solutions which can be exported to the world.

We are a recognised “test-bed” for innovation; we have a strong high-tech manufacturing sector, strengths in niche component parts, and a good regulatory system – all a platform for New Zealand to reap first-mover benefits.

But, as the Deloitte Access Economics report Unlocking economic opportunities from transport innovations identifies, it will not be enough to rest on our laurels – we need to act to stay on or ahead of the curve.

Intelligent transport systems will save time, lives, and fuel – and the sector is full of opportunities for businesses to expand into if we leverage off the platform we already have.

The Deloitte report predicts the sector has the potential to be a material contributor to New Zealand’s economy, and is increasingly relevant for businesses as a commercial opportunity.

There are already a number of New Zealand companies leading the way around developing and selling intelligent transport systems products and services, ranging from network management, integrated transport solutions across all transport modes, to autonomous vehicles to wireless charging.

New Zealand companies and start-ups already operating in this space need support to grow and take the best advantage of the enormous potential markets both domestically and internationally.

Many of these services require research into innovations, or component parts to

support technology already in development.

There is an almost unimaginable scope for ITS solutions to be deployed and, as demand for new technologies and services has rocketed, the market has struggled to match supply.

ITS is likely to have influence across various industries – including horticulture, agriculture, food processing, as well as all modes of transport.

The question also needs to be asked as to how New Zealand can attract the best international businesses to test, develop and make their technologies here for export to the world, as more companies look to New Zealand as an attractive base for ITS products and services.

While the concept of intelligent transport is not new, interest has escalated because of the need to solve increasingly urgent problems – including emissions and congestion.

Questions are being asked around the world as to how transport can become safer, more effective, and have less environmental impact.

And others countries are actively engaged in how to use smart transport to solve practical problems.

Increasingly automated systems can help plan the development of transport networks, identify safety and congestion issues, and communicate with commuters.

Both central and local governments will come under pressure to find safer and more sustainable transport solutions, and intelligent transport will become a core consideration in major infrastructure projects.

Intelligent transport systems make for safer, more environmentally friendly, and more efficient cities, flowing on to the country as a whole.

Providing affordable and accessible transport outside of centralised urban areas can help address housing market pressures and unlock regional economies, generating jobs outside the main centres.

The future success of the ITS sector depends on how well organisations, universities, entrepreneurs and the Government can work together.

There is a strong case for government and the private sector to work closely together from research through to production given the complementary benefits that can come out of developing the sector.

Now is the time to increase investment in intelligent transport, and to research, innovate, design, develop, manufacture and sell ITS technology-based products and services.

Developing this sector could solve domestic issues including congestion, road safety and emissions targets, while generating exportable solutions to these same problems that are occurring across the globe.

John Carnegie is Executive Director Energy and Infrastructure, BusinessNZ

The Deloitte report was commissioned by the Intelligent Transport Systems Advisory Group (ITSAG), to provide insight into the opportunity for New Zealand to benefit from the growing domestic and international interest in ITS.

The ITSAG comprises Airways, Amazon Web Services, BusinessNZ, Ericsson, Foodstuffs, Fujitsu, Fulton Hogan, HMI Technologies, KiwiRail, Microsoft, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Transport Agency, Spark, Tech Futures Lab, WSP Opus.