A grand transport plan
The innercity havoc last week’s tram strike created and the even greater metropolitanwide chaos tomorrow’s planned train strike will create, provides a timely reminder for us to stop and look cohesively at our transport network, and the vital role it will play in shaping Greater Melbourne’s growth for the future. There are sound modefocused (trains, trams, buses, roads and freight) strategic plans for transport growth. Collectively however, we lack the highlevel joinedup thinking and guidance on how to more effectively integrate our transport plans to ensure the efficient and effective movement of both freight and people in and around the Greater metropolitan area. Interestingly, those who could stand to gain the most from pressing their own interests – individual operators – are strong advocates for working together in the interests of developing a more integrated system that builds capacity and connectivity across all transport modes. We do ourselves a great disservice when we turn this discussion into a ‘road versus rail debate’. The fact is not everyone has ready access to a train or a tram, and we need to provide viable options for all. Those who are fortunate enough to have good public transport access may well find out tomorrow what the commute is like every day for those who don’t.
Breakfast with Apple’s Ken Segall
On Monday morning, Committee for Melbourne members had the opportunity to have breakfast with Ken Segall – the man who put the 'i' in iMac and started the ifrenzy. Speaking about the 12 years he spent at NeXT and Apple working with Steve Jobs, Ken spoke about the development of Apple’s Think Different campaign, and the keys to Apple’s branding success. In short, Ken’s five golden rules are: 1. Simplicity breeds love; 2. Do fewer things better; 3. Common sense solutions; 4. Words matter – simplicity is the ultimate sophistication; 5. Minimise and humanise the words. Speaking of the power of simplicity in business, Ken was quick to point out that there is no such thing as simplicity – in fact the ‘i’ products themselves are incredible complex technological devices. It is the perception of simplicity to the customer or consumer that matters, and in reality isn’t that Apple’s core business – making life easier for the everyday person?
According to Premier Daniel Andrews, the Victorian economy is ‘kicking goals’. Off the back of the latest National Accounts released by the ABS, which showed state final demand for Victoria rose 0.9 per cent for the June quarter, up 3 per cent from the previous year, the Premier indicated the state economy continues to show ‘signs of strength and dynamism’. Victoria’s quarterly result was second only to Western Australia, and over the first half of 2015, our state's final demand of 2.6 per cent was the highest of all the states, well ahead of New South Wales at 1.7 per cent. There were also quarterly gains in business investment, public demand and household consumption, and private gross fixed capital formation increased 1.5 per cent as a result of increased engineering construction. Housing construction also continues to be strong with ABS figures showing that over the twelve months to July 2015, Victoria had the highest value of total building approvals and the highest number of dwelling unit approvals domestically.
Broader assessment of infrastructure projects
One of the key principles raised in the Committee’s position paper on best practices for infrastructure project assessment was the need for WEBbased (Wider Economic Benefit) assessment of projects. Much of the good work Lewis Atter has done in Manchester around WEB assessment which led to the UK City Deals program, provides a sound evidence base for this concept. A new concept however, the Community Centric Model for assessing infrastructure Projects may well be another idea we should be looking at to include in our assessment toolbox. Researched and developed by Melbourne University’s Dr Hemanta Doloi, this model focuses on quantifying community participation and measuring social value outcomes. Having conducted some groundbreaking research on Melbourne’s East West Link project and comparing the findings from the successful Crossrail project in London, Dr Doloi has highlighted some of the critical issues associated with the public consultation process, management of community perceptions and finetuning decisionmaking to optimise project outcomes. This concept is certainly worthy of more scrutiny and consideration. Dr Doloi will be joining Committee for Melbourne members for a roundtable discussion on this model in coming weeks.
Autonomous vehicles – yes, they really do exist
Do we genuinely believe that one day, in the not too distant future, (i.e. think years not decades), our trip to work will include reading the news on our iPads (or latest version thereof), while our autonomous vehicle gets us safely to our destination? If you are like many of the disbelievers out there who think this concept is something for the scifi movie set – think again. Autonomous vehicles like GM Holden’s EnV (Electric NetworkedVehicle) and the Google Car are already here. These autonomous vehicles do not need steering wheels, pedals or gear sticks. Rather, they use GPS, cameras and sensors to navigate their way to a predetermined address. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to eliminate safety risks associated with human error while driving, and, as they are ideally suited to cities, could form the taxi fleet of the future. They would help to improve safety, eliminate traffic congestion and lower demand for parking as theses vehicles would drop you off at your destination and move on to collect another passenger. Imagine the Hoddle Street Grid as the world’s first autonomous vehicle serviced CBD – and then think about how we can make it happen.ally do exist.