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Federal government launches National Freight Data Hub prototype

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The federal government has officially launched the National Freight Data Hub prototype website, an initiative that provides vital insights into Australia’s freight system.

To fully capitalise on the value of enhanced freight data, the Australian Government announced $16.5 million in funding in the 2021-22 Budget over four years to develop the Hub further.

Related: Trucking industry express positive response over infrastructure boost in 2021-22 Federal Budget

The initiative jumpstarts much advancement for the freight sector, as feedbacks and lessons learnt on the prototype will inform the next steps on delivering the National Freight Data Hub.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Hub will be a trusted source of freight data for industry, government and others to improve the efficiency, safety and resilience of the freight sector.

“The Hub will highlight important information about traffic volumes, congestion, road condition and rest area usage, to improve road safety for the nation’s freight operators,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This commitment will in turn support the day-to-day operations of the transport industry, provide enhanced freight data across all supply chains and enable a data-driven approach for future strategic planning and investment,” he said.

The deputy prime minister explained that every Australian, everywhere, every day relies on a truck driver, hence the need for high-quality, easily accessible data to make sure the movement of goods and services is as efficient as possible, especially as Australia’s freight task grows.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said industry asked for a congestion metric to assist with their businesses and the Australian Government has delivered this and more with the prototype Hub website.

“The prototype website is an important first step that shows the Hub’s potential as a game-changer for the Australian freight and supply chain industry,” Assistant Minister Buchholz said.

“The website showcases government and industry cooperation on a number of projects and allows users to search for data relevant to their business,” he said.

In new world-leading visualisations, he said interactive truck telematics maps are publicly available at a national level with insights on congestion in the nation’s cities and a national map of truck rest stops.

He continued that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever the critical importance of Australia’s freight supply chains and all those involved.

“This initiative informed by government, industry and others is a win-win for everyone,” he concluded.

Transport and logistics industry welcomes the initiative

Toll Head of Innovation, Peter Carney, said the congestion data will give the freight industry, and indeed all road users, a keener understanding of where and when congestion occurs.

“This will enable road users and governments to develop strategies for managing the effects of congestion,” Carney said.

“The maps will assist drivers in planning their routes, because knowing where not to drive is as important as knowing where to drive,” he said.

He continued that collaborating with the National Freight Data Hub has been an exciting project and they look forward to implementing changes on the ground using the data.

NSW Ports Chief Executive Officer, Marika Calfas, also hailed the initiative, saying it is an important first step toward a comprehensive National Freight Data Hub.

“A fully developed National Freight Data Hub, with data across all supply chains, will assist with decision-making and evidence led-investments to enhance the efficiency and resilience of Australia’s freight supply chains and to quantify investment outcomes,” Calfas explained.

For iMOVE Managing Director Ian Christensen, Australia’s size and distance from world markets increases the scale of its freight task and it is therefore incumbent on us to work together to be efficient and drive down the cost of freight.

“The prototype website has exceeded expectations,” Christensen said.

“The National Freight Data Hub is a crucially important initiative and iMOVE is eager to continue working with government and businesses to embrace data and increase information sharing for improved freight productivity,” he said.

Also commending the Government for the prototype is Australian Logistics Council CEO, Kirk Coningham OAM, who said that data is the new oil and having an integrated National Freight Data Hub is critical to the delivery of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy.

“The ALC commends the Government on the launch of the prototype website and looks forward to working together on this vital project, to ensure it meets the needs of industry now and into the future,” Coningham said.

Woolworths Group Head of Transport Development, Ben Newton, also praised the collaboration.

“The challenges of the past year have put a spotlight on the need for industry and government to work closely together across supply chains to deliver for the community,” Newton said.

He continued that the Hub is a significant step forward in this collaboration, leveraging real-time data to achieve greater efficiency, safety and productivity outcomes across the transport network.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is developing the National Freight Data Hub in close consultation with industry, governments and other stakeholders.

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