The NSW Government is hoping an invitation-only room of 150 of the “world’s brightest tech minds” will be able to find a way to digitally disrupt the state’s public transport for the better.
Minister for transport and infrastructure Andrew Constance said that invitations had already been sent to “thought leaders, IT specialists, innovators, entrepreneurs, futurists, transport leaders and academics, from Surry Hills to Silicon Valley”, to attend a first-of-its-kind summit in April.
The summit forms part of 'Future Transport' – a new 12-month program that is designed “to uncover the trends and technologies that will revolutionise the way the government and customers plan, build and use transport.”
"While we've made good progress with open data, collaboration with developers, apps and better regulation, it's no secret NSW has lagged behind the rest of the world and I am determined to turn that around,” Constance said.
"The state's population is going to increase by about two million people by 2031. As well as building new infrastructure, we need to look at smarter systems and technology driven solutions to cope with demand.
"We need to stay ahead of the game so it's time we ask, what are the next big ideas? What are the next systems and technologies that are going to challenge us and shape the transport system in NSW?”
Some of the issues that are expected to be discussed over the next year include tackling congestion, moving freight, making transport safer, updating the way infrastructure is managed and responding to disruptive technologies.
The two-day summit is the first step in the process. A final program and list of speakers is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The summit – which will run from April 18 – will feature an 'Industry Ideas and Innovations Lab' where companies can register to pitch products and ideas that could improve transport and the customer experience, Constance said.
Constance also said he expected the wider ‘Future Transport’ program to “include opportunities for the community to get involved through online forums, a youth summit, and new partnerships with incubators to stay across emerging ideas and products.”
In a Facebook post, the NSW Government highlighted the role that technology had already played in changing the state’s transport systems.
“You only have to look back four years to see how rapidly technology has changed the way we travel,” it said.
“In that time we've seen the introduction of Opal, apps that show real-time traffic and public transport information and apps that allow you to connect with a driver at the touch of a button.”
Constance flagged “driverless cars and trains” as topics that are likely to be discussed over the next year.
However, such discussions would be broadly in line with directions the state government is already taking.
The North West Rail Link in Sydney is expected to run driverless trains, according to plans unveiled in 2013.
The state government has embraced other disruptive elements to transport, including the legalisation of Uber late last year.