Regulator taps Azure to keep roads safe

Regulator taps Azure to keep roads safe

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator hosts safety and compliance regulatory data lake on Azure

Credit: NHVR

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is assessing the use of cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) to drive additional insights from the masses of data it accumulates and help it make the best use possible of its resources.

The NHVR has already worked with HCL and Microsoft to help it manage data gathered from the 930,000 vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes that it needs to keep track of

Headquartered in Brisbane, the NHVR was established in 2013 and employees 353 people across Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Launceston and Melbourne.

NHVR’s efforts to be a smarter and more effective regulator by finding the best way to use the data it collects have seen it turn to Microsoft’s Azure cloud services.

An initial step was to move NHVR's safety and compliance regulatory platform to the Azure, which took place in July 2018. Data sets loaded included the registration details of heavy vehicles, accreditation customers, more than 60,000 access consent requests a year and a wide range of compliance data from transport and police agencies.

Data provided to the regulator is first stored in Azure blob storage and then shifted to the data lake hosted on Microsoft’s cloud. As of July last year, there were 4.5 million registration records in the data lake. A year later, the number of records had grown to 336 million.

“As a government entity that is trying to drive change in the industry, and trying to drive good policy and good regulation, it really relies on having good quality data and evidence to make the right decisions,” NHVR program relations and product manager Tammy Wigg told Computerworld.

Wigg said that the organisation previously had issues accessing its data in order to profile, analyse, and understand it, to deliver insights. The shift to cloud has played a key role in making that possible.

“The technology has been absolutely instrumental… to help us acquire that data and use it and analyse it in sensible ways. And the tooling also helps us share those insights with the right people,” she added.

NHVR uses Microsoft’s Power BI to analyse the data and is considering the use of AI and telematics to collect and interpret a rich array of data and identify patterns and trends that will keep drivers and roads safer.

“Instead of intercepting 100 trucks at random, we want to use information and insights to be more selective in which trucks we intercept. This means compliant operators and drivers will be intercepted less frequently and can get on with earning a dollar. At the end of the day, we want a highly productive but safe heavy vehicle industry,” Wigg explained.

She said that the regulator plans to acquire a large amount of data, with some of that coming through in regular cycles.

“We can't manually adjudicate this information and we're not going to get 200 more resources to sit there and analyse data either,” Wigg said.

She said the regulator was looking for cloud services that can help it optimise its understanding of risk and focus its limited resources on where there is the highest risk, as well as continuously assess changes to that profile.

“There'll be patterns that we are looking for that we want to be able to define in there. But then there are also patterns we were never looking for that we are hoping AI will help alert us to as well,” she said.

NHVR analyses not only registration information but also where vehicles are going and where they are restricted from going, which can help inform policy making and enable it to advocate for infrastructure investment on behalf of industry.

It also uses the data to monitor if drivers have taken their required breaks helping keep roads safer.

The regulator has a portal that enables operators of heavy vehicles to apply for permits and view their heavy vehicle registration information.

NHVR is expanding the portal to become a one-stop-shop for all of its services. The portal integrates with the safety and compliance regulatory platform, enabling important information to be accessible by operators any time of the day or night.  

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