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Prime Mover Magazine

Switching on access

Transport Certification Australia performs a critical role in supporting the appropriate adoption of telematics. General Manager – Strategic Development and Implementation, Gavin Hill, recently spoke with Prime Mover about a range of issues at the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association conference in Griffith.

Transport Certification Australia (TCA) is the Australian government body responsible for providing advice, accreditation and administration services for public purposes involving the use of telematics and related intelligent technologies. Gavin Hill joined the organisation in 2011.

He has led national and state-based reform to deliver public purpose outcomes and managed the implementation of national regulatory and non-regulatory telematics and ITS programs.

PM: First, a common question. Is it necessary to have multiple ‘black boxes’ in any transport vehicle when using something such as the Intelligent Access Program (IAP)?
GH: There is no need to have multiple black boxes. The issue can arise when operators who already have telematics services for their own purposes want to operate under a particular access arrangement where the IAP is required as a condition by road managers. The IAP, as a regulatory telematics application with legislative provisions, requires hardware which needs to meet certain integrity and security requirements. This means that sometimes hardware needs to be upgraded or replaced if vehicles need to be in the IAP. There have been cases where providers end up offering two separate devices for the one consumer. It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t need to, be like that. It highlights the need for providers to do the right thing by consumers. TCA is available to assist transport operators if they ever have questions about the advice they are receiving from providers. You might need to upgrade the existing device to meet IAP requirements but you still should only need one device. It should be noted that over 45,000 heavy vehicles are already fitted with hardware which meets TCA performance requirements, which are able to support the IAP. The good news is that the decisions made by transport operators to invest in the right kind of telematics hardware – which supports their future needs – means that the need to upgrade or replace hardware is significantly lower than it has been in the past.

PM: Are the performance requirements for hardware too stringent?
GH: The hardware requirements needed for the IAP reflect its use as a regulatory telematics application under the heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). As I said in my presentation to the LBRCA Conference TCA offers different levels of assurance through the National Telematics Framework – not just the IAP. We are not policy makers, we simply make sure that the equipment and associated systems are fit for purpose. During February this year TCA released the latest update (Version 3) of the Telematics IVU Functional and Technical Specification. We’ve been able to identify areas where requirements can be made less stringent, without compromising performance-based outcomes which relate to robustness, accuracy, reliability, tamper evidence, data storage and security.

PM: Why is that?
GH: When we’re talking about the IAP we’re talking about a telematics application that has the integrity and robustness similar of, say, a speed camera. But we’re also saying that not every use of telematics for heavy vehicle access needs to have the rigour of the IAP. Let’s get beyond that. At present road managers and regulators are saying we need certificate based evidentiary data (known as Level 3) and whenever you’re saying that it means something in terms of the device in the vehicle. However, the new applications approved by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) including the Road Infrastructure Management (RIM) application which I covered at the LBRCA conference, presents 16 new initiatives for road managers and regulators to have access to other tools, not just the IAP. That’s why I say don’t use a hammer when you need a screwdriver. A similarity is you look at the road network and there’s speed cameras, red light cameras and traffic cameras. Speed and red light cameras have high levels of integrity and legislative underpinning for compliance purposes. But you don’t use a speed camera if you just want to monitor traffic on the network. So when you look at telematics you don’t need the IAP as a regulatory telematics application – the broad equivalent of a speed camera – if you just want to use telematics to collect, aggregate and de-identify data for road network management purposes.

PM: Should that make the IAP and other telematics applications more attractive to both operators and road managers?
GH: In my personal view the IAP has sometimes been used for the wrong reasons and that has led to frustration, not with the technology, but the reason the data is being collected and how it’s being used. There are also frustrations with what the IAP doesn’t do and that’s fair enough because the IAP was designed to manage compliance. If the vehicle goes off route an exception based report is generated. That’s all it does. If you want it to do other things like collect data across a greater population of vehicles, fleet network management, mapping of where vehicles are going, times of travel, congestion then we are talking different applications of technology not the IAP. In other words, when we talk about telematics it’s similar to talking about different apps on a phone.

PM: Has the IAP been overtaken by technology developments?
GH: No. If you look at the technology and service offerings through the IAP today they’re light years ahead of even two or three years ago. The IAP isn’t a stand-alone technology, it’s the same technology, just with different regulations that underpin their operation with different checks and balances on factors like security and calibration and how the data is collected and used.

PM: Are there any issues surrounding unapproved devices or systems?
GH: We promote an open technology market and we work closely with providers throughout the telematics industry and hold bi-annual Telematics Industry Group (TIG) meetings which involve a much wider group from the market than just certified providers. We know there are providers out there that, for a variety of reasons, don’t offer Level 3 certified regulatory services, and they’ve made their own business decisions not to be in that space. There’s a select few that operate at the really high level and then you’ve got everyone else. It goes to back to how you want to use the telematics. Use the data and that drives what level of assurance you need.

PM: The EU has legislated for some common telematics platforms so that various truck brands can communicate with each other. Is this something we should be considering here?
GH: We’re plugged into those international developments and TCA is part of international task groups that are focussed around harmonisation. We’ve got our role to play representing Australia’s needs in that international space.

PM: How do you see telematics in five years’ time?
GH: I think we’re going to see more OEM telematics equipment coming as standard in vehicles. I think we’re already seeing a shift where the days of retrofitting devices will become less common. It will be driven by the manufacturers themselves who probably don’t want third party electronic equipment being installed anyway. There are a lot of providers out there today and we’re going to see increasing consolidation in the market. Regardless of what government or TCA does there are major investments flowing into this telematics industry and it’s a multi-national business now, not small start-ups as it was 10 years ago.

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