Street Smart (Winter 2021)

From the front...

Winter 2021

Kia ora, 

It’s about the environment, and it’s hot! 

That’s an odd thing to say in the depths of winter but the physical environment is hot with fires in California, Greece and a new term (for me at least) pyrocumulonimbus meaning a fire cloud.  The economic environment is hot too with unemployment at near long-term lows and coupled with a closed immigration policy, even for skilled immigrants, that is driving up the demand for the skills we offer. What’s exciting for me is we’re continuing to expand the technical depth and reach of the solutions clients are requiring from us.  

Regarding that demand, our team is continuing to expand.  We’ve not only been successful opening a new regional office in Wellington; we’ve also been working on carbon accounting and also expanding our international presence.

That’s because we’re technical problem solvers using our business case, software development, engineering and geography skills to solve wider societal issues. 

We know our role as your trusted advisor is critical in maintaining both our place in providing advice and also being an employer of choice.  Thank you for enabling us to do our best work for New Zealand.

Even though it’s hot, I’m looking forward to summer.  

Hope to catch up with you soon,

Steve Abley 
Chief Executive

We are open for business in Wellington

Abley are thrilled to announce we have opened our new Wellington office, and warmly welcome Dr Nadine Dodge and Anthea Mullholland to our team.

Nadine joins us from Wellington City Council where she was involved in writing business cases and providing analytics and economic analyses for a range of transport and urban development projects. She is passionate about economics and analytics to improve decision-making across all aspects of the transport system. Nadine is driven to deliver the best possible outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand, especially with regards to delivering a transport system that is safe, sustainable, and inclusive.

We also extend a warm welcome to Anthea Mulholland, who joins as Wellington Regional Lead. Anthea is a passionate Wellingtonian with a strong sense of community. This has fuelled her work in the public sector – from supporting the growth and sustainability of the region’s innovation, technology, and manufacturing communities as Executive Director of Technology Valley, to working with the Upper Hutt City Council to drive social and economic prosperity. At her heart is a strong focus on engagement – understanding people and how to connect with them in a compelling way. Anthea has built a wide network of contacts across Wellington, who she’s keen to introduce to Abley as we look to build our team in Wellington.

Anthea Mulholland

Anthea Mulholland
Wellington Regional Lead


Forecasting road network CO2

With the New Zealand Government committed to limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, it’s crucial that transport practitioners understand their role in achieving climate targets.

Road transport CO2 emissions represent 43 percent of Aotearoa’s gross CO2 emissions. Near complete decarbonisation of road transport is required by 2030, as other sectors will not be able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by as much. Unfortunately, the understanding of road transport CO2 emissions by Road Controlling Authorities remains limited. This means that they are largely operating blind when it comes to achieving carbon reductions.

Accurate forecasting

In 2020, the Queenstown-Lakes District Council sought to understand the carbon emissions generated by vehicles travelling on their road network in the past year (2018/19), and commissioned Abley to calculate emissions estimates. Our team modelled the impact of increasing Vehicle Kilometres Travelled alongside other metrics and estimated that road transport emissions in the District would peak in 2029. Total emissions on the Council’s road network were projected to drop by 29 percent between 2018 and 2048 when accounting for the impact of planned transport programmes. This work shows that councils should start planning their emissions reduction pathways now and perform a reality check on the ambition of their planned programmes.

The risk of not forecasting

Without robust measurements and forecasts of road network CO2, councils run the risk of making decisions that don’t sufficiently reduce emissions. Similarly, realising that road transport emissions are projected to peak in 2029 can provide decision makers with a renewed sense of urgency, more aligned with the effort required for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050. Transportation practitioners have a crucial role to play in requesting road transport CO2 forecasts and challenging their absence from the policy-making process.

Benjamin Walch
Senior Transportation Planner

Improving road safety in Indonesia

Abley’s Dr Shane Turner is providing expertise to the Indonesian government as they work to improve road safety outcomes in the country.

Indonesia, like many South-East Asian countries, has a high number of road deaths per capita. Its rate of 15 deaths per 100,000 people (2015) is around five times higher than the world’s safest countries, such as Sweden, and three times higher than developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Australia. A high proportion of Indonesian road deaths and hospitalisations involve vulnerable road users, in particular motorcycles and pedestrians.

Why such a high rate of road deaths?

In recent years Indonesia experienced a large increase in motor vehicle ownership, especially motorcycles. One main factor in road safety  risk is the quality of road infrastructure, which varies considerably across the country from high standard freeways to narrow, high-risk rural highways. Another factor is speed limits which are too high for vulnerable road users, especially in towns and cities. 

Making a change: blackspots and star-ratings

In response to their road safety record, the Indonesian government plan to significantly reduce the number of annual road deaths by 2030. As part of achieving this goal, they are focusing on improving the safety of over 900 crash blackspots and increasing the proportion of the national road network that achieves minimum three-star rating (iRAP) for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

Enter Abley expertise

In late 2020, Abley’s Safe System Technical Director Shane Turner was invited to join the team responsible for improving the asset management of Indonesia’s national road network. With over 47,000km of roads this was no small task.

Shane’s role was to develop a safety module attached to their asset management software, for use by the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) – the Indonesian national highway organisation. Following discussions with DGH, Shane’s role was expanded to include advice on assessing and treating over 900 blackspots, including training and strategic advice for DGH staff. Shane also investigated the development of a predictive element within the safety module, following the safety science approach outlined in the USA Highway Safety Manual.

Dr Shane Turner
Technical Director, Road Safety

A strategic approach to parking

Many will be familiar with seeing parking in the news headlines.  A change in parking availability, charging or time limits is guaranteed to get media attention, stir up the community and make politicians nervous.

Part of the reason for this is that there is often a poor strategic view to guide parking decisions. Parking change is generally sporadic, in response to a new project or request from the public, leaving some people feeling blindsided.

Being strategic

We are seeing strategic parking management emerge as an area of interest for local councils.  The release of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) removes the ability for tier 1, 2 and 3 District Plans to have parking minimums (except for accessible car parks). The draft Waka Kotahi National Parking Management Guidance, and the emphasis on climate friendly travel choices are all colliding to make strategic parking management more important than ever.

A parking strategy sets out the strategic vision for parking and provides the framework for how the council will manage it. A strong strategy is best guided by public consultation and councillor input. This gives council staff direction on parking management. It also helps to communicate with the public on the reason for a particular change.

Parking management plans

The NPS-UD and draft Waka Kotahi National Parking Management Guidance encourage the development of comprehensive parking management plans.  These plans gather information on parking supply and demand and make detailed recommendations for a defined area.  Parking management plans should be guided by their overarching parking strategy to ensure the two align.

Abley’s involvement

Abley works with councils across Aotearoa to develop their parking strategies and parking management plans. Through this work, our team are seeing some consistent themes that occur nationwide, such as balancing accessibility for drivers while encouraging the use of other travel options for those who don’t need to drive. Each council is unique and requires a tailored approach.

If you would like to know more about parking strategies or parking management we can help you, please contact Stephen Carruthers.

Stephen Carruthers
Associate Transportation Planner

The Land Development team delivers

Our transport land development specialists help clients gain plan change approvals, resource consents and designations.  Here are two recent successes.

Milldale School

A Notice of Requirement was recently approved for a designation for Milldale School in Orewa, Auckland. The school will provide for 800 primary-aged pupils and will include an early childcare education facility for 50 children. Engineering Plan Approvals were already granted for the Milldale Precinct area, setting out the proposed roading network. Our team prepared an Integrated Transport Assessment (ITA) for the Ministry of Education and worked with the design team to ensure appropriate intersections, crossing facilities and footpaths were in place. We also considered appropriate access locations to the school, the requirements for pick-up and drop-off and undertook transportation modelling to identify the network effects.


YMCA Christchurch

The YMCA wish to transform their existing Christchurch central city site to support a range of ongoing community-based activities, including the construction of a new building. Our team was commissioned to provide transport design advice and deliver an ITA as part of the resource consent application.  This project will deliver a black-box theatre, a preschool, a health and fitness centre, and a dedicated youth space. With all these activities the site’s transport design was fundamental to the operation of the site, so we worked closely with the YMCA and Architectus to find the best solution. We are pleased that the YMCA recently received resource consent for their project to ‘invest in the next generation’.

If you need professional advice to assist in obtaining plan change approval, resource consent or a designation please contact our transport land development specialists.

If you need professional advice to assist in obtaining plan change approval, resource consent or a designation please contact our transport land development specialists.

Dave Smith
Technical Director, Transportation Planning

Jo Draper
Associate, Transportation Planner


Supply chain solutions

The global impact of Covid-19 has reached far beyond the boundaries of health.  International supply chains have been interrupted and this is being keenly felt in New Zealand.  

Suppliers are struggling to compete on a global stage to get goods to our shores.  Once goods arrive in the country, logistics companies are dealing with a geographically dispersed population, long distances and a demand from consumers to be more cost conscious.

The need to optimise freight delivery

It is no surprise that logistics and transport companies are exploring how to be more efficient by optimising delivery routes to improve on-time delivery.  These companies recognise the need for more sophisticated technology than Google Maps API. What is needed is a comprehensive solution that is capable of optimising routes for a variety of delivery solutions, from freight routing to courier delivery.  The solution also needs to consider New Zealand’s unique geography, the width, height and weight restrictions enforced on our roads, and be able to cater for the future as companies consider their carbon footprint and move towards an electric fleet.  Finally all this optimisation counts for nothing if the solution costs more to run and implement than the savings it generates.

Our solution

Abley offers a solution to these issues that is based on two key factors.  Firstly, our includes a highly accurate spatial database that contains the location of legal and physical restrictions, like speed limits and axle weight restrictions.  It also includes warnings for narrow roads, steep hill descents, and hazardous material restrictions.  Distance markers are maintained in a point of interest dataset that includes locations such as rest areas and parking, service stations and weigh stations.  The dataset represents the most comprehensive data source for trucking logistics in NZ. 

Secondly, Abley provides a comprehensive truck routing algorithm.  The algorithm combines restrictions from the truck database, a user specified truck profile, live or historic traffic patterns, and delivery conditions such as time windows to generate perfectly optimised routes for the entire fleet.

Available as an API there is no need to replace your entire delivery system.  You only need to swap out the routing tools to start improving your delivery schedule, saving time and cost.

With Abley’s solution you go from thinking about efficiency and optimisation to knowing it and in doing so you can provide your customers with the certainty they are looking for.

Welcome to our new team members

Abley like many businesses in New Zealand at the moment, has had a very active last quarter in the recruitment space.

Our Software Development team has grown considerably this year with new employees in both our Auckland and Christchurch offices. In April we welcomed Paul Atay (full stack developer), Jing Chen (front-end, web and UX developer) and Emma Harris (Senior UX UI designer). Also new to our team are Mathew Lawrence and Lois Li, both Graduate Spatial Developers. Lois returned to us after completing an internship with us in 2018 as part of her studies.

Bishnu Basnet, Senior Transportation Design Engineer in the Safety Delivery team, has joined our Auckland team, and Jonas Yang, Transportation Engineer in our People and Places team, recently started in our Christchurch office. As mentioned in our Wellington article, Anthea Mulholland and Nadine Dodge have started up our new Wellington office.

Our Shared Services team has also expanded to reflect this recent growth. Cam Smith has joined our IT team, Samantha Lee is our Finance Administrator and Victoria Holt  is our HR Administrator. We extend a warm welcome to our new employees and wish them every success on their journey with us.

From top left to bottom right: Paul Atay, Jing Chen, Mathew Lawrence, Emma Harris, Bishnu Basnet, Jonas Yang, Anthea Mulholland, Nadine Dodge, Cam Smith and Sam Lee.

Join our team

We are always on the hunt for talented professionals to join our award-winning team.

If you have transportation, spatial or software development skills and experience, and you are looking for an exciting new opportunity, we would love to hear from you! 

View our careers page for our current vacancies.