2013 Overview

Overview of Activities at rCITI – 2013

In its second year of full operation, rCITI has continued to expand and strengthen its network across campus and with relevant government and industry. Significant achievements for 2013 include two successful Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Grants as well as a partnership with Transport for NSW (TfNSW) with a budget to rCITI of $1.5M over three years.

Moreover, the Centre further increased its number of Postgraduates, Honours and Practicum students. Throughout 2013, the core Academic team supervised and supported 13 PhD students, 1 Masters by Coursework, 3 Masters by Research and 18 Honours students. In addition, rCITI hosted two Practicum Exchange Program students from UConn (USA) and Harbin Institute of Technology (China).

Curriculum review implements Transport Course

Professor Waller and his team have participated in the curriculum review of the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering and commenced the implementation of transport course and program initiatives for 2014. Two new transport courses as well as a Masters Transport Specialization stream have been approved by the university on offer from 2014 onwards.

LIEF grant for TRACSLab

A research team led by Professor Waller and Dr Dixit won an ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant to deploy a Travel Choice Simulation Laboratory (TRACSLab), which is a world-first facility to observe collective travel choice in a realistic lab environment. The team completed the procurement process and has conducted initial experiments. The driving simulators are expected to be set up soon for the full project capacity to be utilized. This lab is unique due to the focus on travel choice, networked interaction and strong teaming, including partners at the University of Sydney and iCinema (UNSW). The findings of the lab will support a new generation of transport analysis techniques for emerging issues such as sustainability, reliability, and intelligent transport systems (ITS).

ARC Linkage grant wins

Chief Investigators at rCITI were awarded two ARC Linkage grants this year. The project with investigators from the University of Sydney and industry partner TSS, one of the main transport software vendors globally, evolves around "Methodologies for the Incorporation of Congestion Propagation and System Reliability into Transport Network Models for Consistent Multi-Scale Planning". This project improves the capabilities of transport planning techniques. Specifically, new methods are introduced which improve the realism of regional congestion modelling as well as the mathematical representation of traveller decision-making, thereby permitting an improved long-term transport plan.

Government organizations have expressed interest in this particular project and are involved in project meetings to discuss potential funding of a test pilot.

GoGet Carshare is the industry partner for the second awarded rCITI Linkage Project titled "Integrating Network Modelling with Observed Choice Data for Multi-Criteria Optimization of Complex Carshare Systems: Cost, Mobility and Transit Usage". The aim is to develop methods to determine an efficient carshare system, which includes optimal location, one-way carsharing, and how carshare influences the broader transport system. By adopting such new comprehensive methods, the overall transport system will benefit through potential improvements in public transit usage.

Three Year Partnership with Transport for NSW

After ongoing meetings and scoping of potential collaboration, Professor Waller has been notified by Les Wielinga, Director General of Transport for NSW (TfNSW), that TfNSW agrees to enter into a three-year partnership with funding to rCITI of $500,000 per year. The agreement has been executed and work on project tasks has commenced. The collaboration is to "Develop and Deploy Novel Integrated Network Techniques to Enhance the NSW Transport System" and involves close ongoing interaction between UNSW researchers and students with TfNSW staff.

Jointly with Evans & Peck, rCITI has been appointed to the Transport Modelling Service Panel of Transport for NSW, after undergoing a competitive tender submission and selection process.

Professor Waller has new appointments

Professor Waller has been appointed Associate Director of the iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research, a UNSW interdisciplinary Arts, Engineering and Science Centre. He is also engaged as member of the Steering Committee for the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW's leading urban policy research centre within the Faculty of the Built Environment, focusing on key research areas such as urban planning, housing, design, development and social policy.

Mutual research opportunities

In order to further strengthen existing ties and exploring additional potential areas of mutual research and projects, rCITI co-organized a collaborative workshop with researchers and staff from NICTA as well as a workshop with academics and researchers of the School of Computer Science and Engineering. The initial workshops were perceived well and similar events are being considered for the future.

Developments in Staffing

Throughout the year, Professor Waller further expanded rCITI's core team, securing Dr David Rey, Mr Zhitao Xiong and Dr Saeed Bastani in Post-Doctoral positions. Their respective expertise compliments the Centre's efforts in key areas. Dr Rey joined rCITI from IFSTTAR (French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks) in France. His core interest is in Operations Research, which allows him to contribute to essential rCITI projects and further expand the Centre's cross-campus collaboration into areas such as aviation and air traffic flow.

Mr Xiong completed his PhD in Transport Studies at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom) and will deploy his expertise in Driving Simulation and Driving Behaviour to focus on rCITI's TRACsLab (ARC LIEF grant).

Dr Bastani joined UNSW after the completion of his PhD at the University of Sydney and is now placed at the School of Computer Science and Engineering. He is working closely with Dr Libman on the rCITI/CSE joint project of vehicular communications matters (Distributed Protocols for Wireless Systems and Vehicular Traffic Control).

Associate Professor Satish Ukkusuri from Purdue University (USA), who had visited rCITI in 2012, returned to UNSW with a Study Abroad Group of 26 students and two senior staff from Purdue's School of Civil Engineering. Professor Waller and Associate Professor Ukkusuri have an established long-term collaboration on research related to transportation network modelling. rCITI hosted the group in May for a visit of the Centre and a specially organized mini-talk series on Sustainability and Infrastructure. Speakers included Dr Vinayak Dixit, Dr Lauren Gardner, Dr Taha Hossein Rashidi, Associate Professor Tommy Wiedmann, Professor Ashish Sharma and Associate Professor Jinling Wang. It was also arranged for the Purdue delegation to attend a presentation at UNSW International on global education opportunities at UNSW.

Visiting academics and guest speakers

rCITI continues to attract a variety of visiting academics and guest speakers to the School for relevant research collaboration and seminars. This year's visitors included:-

    • Professor Mark Hickman, the ASTRA Chair and Professor of Transport Engineering and Director of the Centre for Transport Strategy at the School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland."Analysing and Modelling Passenger Behaviour in Public Transport Networks".
    • Andrew Saul, the Founder & CEO at Genovation Cars – The Green Car Company.
      "Batteries are Included: Transport in the 21st Century".
    • Assistant Professor Nick Lownes, Director at the Center for Transportation and Livable Systems at the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Connecticut, United States.
      "Leveraging big data for equity and efficiency in public transportation systems".
    • Professor Laurent Denant-Boemont, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Experiments in Economics and Management at the School of Economics, University of Rennes, France.
      "Transport Costs and Location Choices in Urban Areas: Evidence from Laboratory Experiments".

Conferences and workshops, here and overseas

Further, Professor Waller and other rCITI staff have attended and been invited to present at a variety of conferences and workshops this year. For example, key rCITI staff participated in the annual TRB (Transportation Research Board 92nd Annual Meeting, Washington D.C), presenting research contributions and chairing several TRB Committee Meetings. rCITI was also represented at the 46th HICSS (Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences), presenting papers and participating in workshops. Moreover, Professor Waller was an invited expert to the BITRE (Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics) Toll Road Patronage Forecasting Seminar as well as their Steering Group Workshop. Additional invited talks included Professor Waller's and Dr Dixit's keynote speech at the Mathematics of Planet Earth Workshop, Monash University, Melbourne; Professor Waller's talk at the NSW Transport Infrastructure Summit in Sydney, at the International TSS/Aimsun User Meeting in Sydney, as well as being a Panel Chair at the 18th International Conference of Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies (HKSTS).

A bright future ahead

Professor Waller and his team at rCITI are looking forward to the future. 2013 has been a year of major accomplishments for rCITI, being awarded substantial funding, steadily expanding our PhD program and teaching curriculum, further strengthening the Centre's relations across campus, nationally and internationally, as well as continuing to build a world-class Centre with excellent staff.