Auckland Transport’s rapid digital response to COVID-19 wins award

Auckland Transport (AT) has been recognised for its world-leading digital response to COVID-19.

In the ALGIM Special Awards* AT won in the fast-tracked project category for providing Aucklanders with the confidence to use public transport during the COVID-19 crisis.

On 26 March, New Zealand went into COVID-19 lockdown under Alert Level 4. Aucklanders still needed to travel for essential purposes, but needed to maintain 2-metre physical distancing while onboard.

Using data and tools, along with innovation and collaboration, AT – in less than a week - delivered an innovative solution for customers.

On March 26, the first day of Alert Level 4 lockdown, AT customers were able to see how full their bus was, in real-time, through the AT Mobile app.

“We already knew how many people were onboard our buses, so we quickly designed and built a new version of the AT Mobile app to present this live information to customers; and we had a plan to update our trains to transmit live occupancy information,” says Callum McLeod, product owner.

AT surveyed public transport users during the lockdown - with customer data and feedback showing how effective the solution had been.

61% of respondents used the AT Mobile app to help them plan their journey, with 70% of respondents rating the app 8 or more out of 10. This was up from 17% in March 2020.

The systems created during the first lockdown then enabled AT to respond to the August Alert Level 3 lockdown in Auckland within hours.

“I’m proud of how our teams all worked together – showing innovation, customer focus, speed and agility,” says Mr McLeod.

“AT developed a world-leading feature that helped those who use public transport feel safer and ensured they could maintain physical distance to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff congratulates Auckland Transport on the award and says the AT Mobile upgrade was a great example of necessity being the mother of invention.

“Despite the challenges caused by the lockdown, Auckland Transport worked quickly and efficiently to develop this tool. The app was widely used and enabled passengers travelling to essential work or to access essential services to know that they were safe while using public transport,” he says.

*ALGIM Special Awards: The awards are open to the ICT, GIS, IRM, Web, Digital, and CX disciplines working in local government. These special awards provide an opportunity for these disciplines to share how they have supported their organisation and their communities during COVID-19 as New Zealand moved up and down the COVID levels: