Press Release

July 16, 2015

Data centres over roads – technology changing the way we move


data_centres_over_roadsThe NSW government released visitor figures for Vivid Sydney and they show it has become firmly established as one of the world’s most renowned festivals.

A record 1.7 million people attended the festival adding around $50 million to Sydney’s economy.

AECOM was part of the program, hosting more than 220 people at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and more than 250 live viewers tuned in via social media app Periscope. Reconnecting Sydney was an interactive panel session about the potential for technology to connect us and enhance the mobility of Sydney. Six panellists from technology, planning, media and government backgrounds discussed the city’s future while the ABC’s Fenella Kernebone was hosted the engaging debate.

Dr. Angus Hervey, co-founder of Future Crunch, said with the predicted advance of telemetry and associated technologies such as driverless cars in the next ten years, Sydney may not need as many more roads or train lines.

“This technological disruption, which is part of the larger digital revolution, will mean most of the cars become a lot more efficient and algorithms drive them more effectively. That means better traffic management, and combined with car-pooling technologies such as Uber, more passengers per car trip,” Dr. Hervey said.

“Sydney is spending billions of dollars on roads that may not be necessary. Surely the city could get more bang for its buck by investing in something like the world’s most advanced data centre, as China is currently doing?”

James Rosenwax, AECOM cities leader said while there was a trend away from personal vehicles, especially with millennials, cars will always be required and that’s one of the reasons why Sydney’s road network needs to continually evolve and improve its connectivity and efficiency.

He said unlike Melbourne and Brisbane, Sydney, had been neglected in terms of investment in major pieces of infrastructure and as a result the city has not kept pace with its global peers. However, Mr. Rosenwax said the city was now on the mend.

“There is a phenomenal amount of city shaping infrastructure either planned or under construction in Sydney in 2015. Examples of this include the M9 Orbital, the North West Rail Link, The Bays Precinct, Sydney Metro, Second Harbour Crossing, potential second Sydney airport and the Parramatta light rail,” he said.

“Many of these are major pieces of infrastructure that will realistically take five years to plan and then another 10 years to execute so it’s 15 years before they will be fully implemented. It’s only with these pieces of infrastructure in place, that Sydney is going to be able to keep moving and remain globally competitive,” Mr. Rosenwax said.

“We do need to provide flexibility in our approach to planning the future Sydney. As we have seen in the last decade, with the advancement of technology to connect and move us, change and disruption will be very high on the agenda. Certainty in Sydney should come from the delivery of a well-integrated transport network, and we should be prepared to allow for innovation in how we live, work and play in and around this network,” he said.

After the panel session, attendees built their very own ‘Reconnected City’ with an interactive city simulation. Players were challenged to improve traffic congestion in a virtual city while keeping other key metrics like capital costs, water and energy consumption in balance.

The game was developed by AECOM and creative technology agency, S1T2 with data drawn from AECOM’s Sustainable Systems Integration Model (SSIM), an integrated Geographic Information System-based design, planning and feasibility tool.

Contact James Rosenwax