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Considered by his industry peers as an Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) ‘veteran’, Chris Paris is a skilled Traffic Systems Manager at Venture Smart who works hard to ensure his knowledge and expertise is passed on to the next generation of programmers.
Located in Western Australia, Venture Smart is a joint venture company with Johnsons Controls that delivers statewide electrical infrastructure services for Main Roads WA across what is one of the largest and most spread-out road networks in the world.
Specialising in traffic signalling, Chris says “It takes a logical mind. You need to apply sound logic in order to program the signals accurately and rectify faults,” he said.
With a career in ITS spanning almost 40 years, Chris first began learning the art of traffic signalling as a Traffic Signals Technician with Main Roads Western Australia.
“When I tell people I work in traffic signalling a common response is to think that all I do is program red, amber and green lights, but the reality is so much more complex than that,” said Chris.
For Chris and his team, a typical day often entails reviewing traffic signal designs via multiple software packages. This includes programming software called “NGEN” which has an ‘adaptive engineering’ foundation. Another software package called WinTraff provides the platform to test the signals before they are tested and installed on site.
To ensure ongoing monitoring and remote adjustments of timings and functions, the team use ‘SCATS’ systems (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System), which provides constant coordination and monitoring functions to all the signals in the state.
Chris explained, “SCATS is an adaptive traffic management system that helps us achieve effective and efficient traffic movement for optimum network performance. It uses adaptive engineering principles to optimise signal operation and ensure that traffic flows on the network. SCATS also reports faults and errors so that we can ensure the signals operate correctly and safely.”
“We also use the software to test designs against a multitude of scenarios; whether it’s peak hour, if an incident has occurred or even weather impacts. We can also access previously programmed signals to help us ensure the signals perform in a real-life setting,” Chris added.
Chris says one of the most critical challenges facing his field is the lack of new talent in the pipeline.
This industry needs fresh thinking – the next generation who can bring forth new ideas and who we can pass our knowledge on to."
"Currently we have six programmers in the team who I am proud to mentor - including Ivan Byl, a Senior Traffic Systems Specialist, who is my succession plan. I also deliver quarterly training on traffic signal systems to benefit all industry sectors including clients, contractors and designers,” said Chris.
Chris is also active on the local and global conference circuit where he discusses key industry challenges.
“My most recent presentation was at the IPWEA WA State Conference where I ran through some solutions to common issues that arise with Pedestrian Crossing Facilities – an area that can be notoriously difficult yet is so safety critical,” he explained.
Venture Smart Project Director, Mick O’Bradaigh, said “Chris’ wealth of technical expertise and industry knowledge has proven invaluable when guiding and mentoring the team.”
Chris is an absolute asset to our team. His technical expertise and ability to both lead and nurture our team is exceptional.”
“The state’s road network is complex but when we have people like Chris working alongside our dedicated Venture Smart team we certainly can feel confident and proud of the work that we deliver for Main Roads WA and the community,” he added.