VicRoads – Road Schematics

Project Details

The request

Turn engineering drawings into a diagram suitable for use in STREAMS, the incident and traffic management software in use. And make it look sexy on television!


VicRoads had started using STREAMS to manage the Monash Freeway (M1) which had undergone a significant redesign. STREAMS is a freeway management system. Operators using these systems need to know:

  • where they are on the road (context is required at all levels of zoom)
  • what the physical environment is (is there a hard barrier, or is this an elevated road, or does it have a regular shoulder)
  • what environment the driver is experiencing.

New operators need to learn to use the system without having to worry about how to read the schematic.

The software requires a diagram of the road to be installed so that the icons for the various road management applications had context to sit in. The diagram needed to be something between an engineering drawing and a mud map and retain context at all zoom levels.

Southern Link original drawings

Original engineering drawings supplied by the client.

And, the redesigned Monash Freeway (M1) was going to be launched with the new road monitoring system featured prominently, so it had to look good as well!


We developed a visual language for the road and all of its components including intersections. That visual language allowed for all foreseeable variations in road design. Part of the design was to reveal extra context elements visible only when zoomed in close – these replace the context provided by the overall shape when zoomed out. Icons were developed for repeating elements like schools and petrol stations. The design also took into consideration that the schematic was to be used in backlit monitors and was designed to reduce eye strain.

As well as designing something that worked for the operators and didn't require any training to be able to read it, we also designed a process that allowed us to create new schematics that were consistent with the first one. We wanted to make sure that the roads, the markings, the design and all the elements stayed the same so that operators could look at any schematic and read it the same way. Our 'manufacturing' process ensures that there is consistency across all schematics.

Southern Link section

Close up of the entry to the Domain Tunnel showing three levels of road, exit lanes and a significant landmark.

The result is a solution:

  • that looks simple
  • is easy to understand
  • is scalable
  • provides context to assist in decision making.
Southern Link full schematic

The Southern Link section of the Monash Freeway straightened to fit the available space but retaining sufficient shape to provide context.

Basics. Know what they are. Get them right. Repeat.

About being sensible.

Tools we use