Transport body urges government to push GPS uptake

National Transport Commission looks for cooperative approach between logistics company and government

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has called on the logistics industry to work cooperatively with state and federal governments in formulating national standards for the implementation of in-vehicle telematics.

The technology, which helps to electronically monitor manage vehicle fleets, drivers and their loads, has already seen a wide up-take in some of the industry's larger players like Woolworths. However, smaller players are continuing to analyse whether the high cost of implementing such technologies provide cost benefits.

A discussion paper released by NTC states that better cooperation between government and industry would help to "support better safety, productivity and environmental outcomes". The call also comes in light of worries that continued increases in logistics operators and the increasing size of truck fleets will have an averse affect on congestion, costs as well as air and noise pollution.

The NTC's senior management of safety, Jeff Potter, told Computerworld Australia that the Federal Government policy body wasn't looking to mandate its use or constrain innovation, but rather to avoid inconsistent implementations across Australia.

"We're recognising that the industry is moving to use [technology], and we want to be sure that we're going forward in a consistent way and don't end up the same way as the railway gauges with every state having different width tracks," Potter said.

"But we're not proposing going down a mandatory route at this stage at all, because by the time you get a regulation in place,you're three generations on in technology," he added. "Trying to regulate is more likely to constrain innovation rather than let it grow and produce additional benefits from where we are now."

Some regulatory measures do exist for telematics within the industry, such as the Intelligent Access Program, set up by Transport Certifications Australia to ensure compliance with operators in keeping off restricted routes. However, even this program - like the use of in-vehicle telematics - is voluntary.

Asia-Pacific vice president of GPS manufacturer Navman Wireless, Ian Daniel, told industry publication Manufacturers' Monthly that less than 10 per cent of Australia industrial companies were currently using wireless fleet management systems such as in-vehicle telematics. According to NTC chief executive officer, Nick Dimopoulos, the commission hopes to see this increased to over 90 per cent by 2030.

While the NTC is wary of mandating the use of technologies like in-vehicle GPS tracking devices, in its discussion paper, Draft National In-vehicle Telematics Strategy: The Road Freight Sector, the commission states that, "for the broader benefit of the economy, society and the environment, regulatory policy should facilitate invehicle telematics uptake".

"The commission’s view is that realising the benefits offered by in-vehicle telematics depends upon a substantial increase in the overall use of this technology within the road freight sector," NTC chairman, Greg Martin, said in a statement opening the discussion paper. "Obtaining this outcome is most likely to be secured through a complementary set of responses covering the provision of information, effective access arrangements, regulatory incentives and compliance and enforcement tools."

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