Baptism by fire (drill): Ollie’s first two weeks at Abley

Ollie Markwell

In order to prevent crashes, you have to know where they are going to occur. There are numerous methods to estimate crash risk in the road network, and my Callaghan Innovation[1] funded project aims to determine which of these are the most accurate.

The most common method to identify dangerous roads is just to count the crashes that have occurred there in the past, but there is a lot of research suggesting that this strategy is flawed, as the occurrence of crashes is by nature, random. Predictive methods, which analyse how dangerous the roads are based on features of the road, are an alternative which can avoid these flaws. As a summer intern at Abley, my challenge over the next couple of months will be to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches.

As I have recently completed my BSc (Hons) in mathematical physics, moving into road safety has been a change of scene, but I am enjoying the opportunity to try something new. It has been interesting to see other ways in which maths can be applied to the physical world.

My first week at Abley started off strong with a building fire drill. This provided a great opportunity to put my newly received health and safety training into action. Being able to confidently locate the fire exit, navigate the stairs, and report to the acting fire warden at the evacuation point shows my extensive tertiary education has paid off! Returning to the building by stairs, I reflected on my gratitude for the first floor location of the Abley office.

It has been great to see what other people across Abley are working on. From being involved in the Safe Systems team, the various stream meetings and the weekly Lunch and Learn sessions, I have ample opportunities to learn about the wide range of work being done at Abley.

I have greatly appreciated how welcoming and friendly everyone at Abley has been. Even before my arrival in the Auckland office, I had been invited on a hike and asked to play for a football team. Since I got here, the social committee has put on Go Karting (sorry for the crash Lewis), with more events planned. These activities have helped me to get to know my new co-workers, and I very much feel like a part of the team. Baking day has also been a highlight. This weekly catch up is for all employees around Aotearoa and provides an opportunity to celebrate successes and makes the company feel like one big team, despite being spread across three offices and other regions with remote workers.

My first two weeks at Abley have flown by, and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the project and learning as much as I can for the rest of the summer.

[1] Callaghan Innovation is New Zealand’s innovation agency. They partner with ambitious businesses of all sizes, providing a range of innovation and research and development (R&D) services to suit each stage of growth. Among their services are the R&D Experience Grants, which help businesses turbocharge their R&D projects with fresh talent and give students real-world industry experience.

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