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Seven Aussie projects shortlisted in IDC's Smart Cities Awards

By Ben Moore
Wed 15 May 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Seven Australian projects have been shortlisted as finalists in the 2019 IDC Asia Pacific Smart Cities Awards. The annual awards highlight and acknowledge outstanding smart city initiatives in the Asia Pacific region and this year attracted over 180 entries.

For 2019, one project from Launceston City Council, three from City of Newcastle, one project from Cairns Regional Council, a project from Mid-Western Regional Council, and a project from the Sunshine Coast Council have been shortlisted as finalists in four of the 12 award categories.

IDC Market Analyst Jefferson King says given the nature of the competition that Australia’s projects are up against, the results are especially noteworthy.

"For Australia to have seven projects that stand out on the regional stage is an exciting achievement. Australia has consistently punched above its weight in the five years that these awards have been running.”

The finalists are: 

1. Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) Smart Water Meter (SWM) - Mid-Western Regional Local Council

Installing smart water meters across the Mid-Western Regional local government area that record hourly and daily water usage so the council can take a more proactive approach to water management. 

The meters can detect leakage issues earlier on, potentially saving ratepayers thousands of dollars (e.g. in 2015/16 there were 140 million litres of wasted water, most of which lost through leaks). Residents are able to access the data recorded by the meters via individual logins to the MWRC website, giving the ability to manage and control their water consumption more carefully.

The smart water meters will also allow for better oversight of the entire network, improving monitoring and reducing manual reading related hours that can now be redirected into customer service and education.

2. Smart Urban Irrigation Project - Cairns Regional Council

This project will use ground surveillance technology to collect data that will assist in irrigation design and programming. This project is all about saving water and making irrigation more efficient through implementing sensor technology that will respond to irrigation needs in real time. 

The solution saves water by integrating soil monitoring technology into a centralized urban irrigation system, allowing irrigation of parks, sporting fields and communal spaces to automatically respond to real-time moisture conditions. Sensors will detect the level of moisture in the soil and will relay the data to a wireless network to avoid over-watering. The data collected would be very specific, allowing the council to ascertain how much water each square meter of the irrigation system requires.

3. Smart Region Implementation Program - Sunshine Council

Queensland’s Sunshine Council has harnessed a host of technologies to create a more livable region, including the first whole-of-region smart Wi-Fi, smart bins and water meters, street lighting as well as sensors for parking and to monitor wildlife and waterways. 

The council’s commitment to smart cities and sustainability is illustrated in the wide range of projects and trials of new technology, a dedicated centre to test new technology, and city designs/plans in consideration of these new technologies. Given the wide range of active projects in the Sunshine Coast, they have created a Smart Region Management Platform, a single pane view of the smart solutions and systems across the region, to help monitor and manage them effectively through the generation and provision of disparate data. 

4. Summer Hill Solar Farm - City of Newcastle

Summer Hill Solar Farm is the biggest Council-owned solar farm in NSW (14,500 panels), a key component of Council’s Smart Environment initiatives under Newcastle’s Smart City Strategy 2017-2021, which guides a wide range of stakeholders and partners towards a smart, sustainable and innovative future.

The project demonstrates smart thinking and innovation through its land reuse of an old coal mine turned landfill, engineering challenges for footing design on a landfill cap, financing arrangements with the CEFC, electricity retail arrangements, and planning for electric garbage vehicle charging. It is intended to become a repeatable model for Councils across Australia, unlocking significant areas of underutilized land that can be repurposed for increasing renewable energy generation and providing an ongoing source of income.

The project will generate a further 7.1-7.3 GWh (or over 7 million kilowatt hours) of renewable energy, saving over 6,000 additional tones of CO2-e annually. It will generate public health benefits from the reduction in particulate matter created in the burning of fossil fuels. The solar farm will likewise create construction jobs and ongoing employment opportunities for system monitoring and maintenance while also utilizing impaired land as opposed to greenfield sites. The project also paves the way for future battery storage, provision of electricity requirements for future facilities onsite, and can be utilized for disaster recovery planning. 

5. Greater Launceston Transformation Project - Launceston City Council

Using the latest connective technology and new 3D virtual city modelling (digital twin) tools, Launceston can transform city planning processes, deliver better educational outcomes and develop a community co-designed innovation hub. The technology involves layering datasets and providing visual representations of entire land areas, providing local councils with the ability to simulate how land use planning decisions affect the future functions of the city. 

The project is the first in Australia to offer full regional virtualization, dynamically modelled on a range of factors, including energy consumption, people movement, land use and the environment. Through it, there will be easier collaboration across four local Councils, the Tasmanian Government, higher education and the private sector to deliver outcomes across four main workstreams of innovation, a digital city, education and employment pathways and digital opportunities for industry.

6. Hunter Innovation Project - Smart City Infrastructure - City of Newcastle

Newcastle is facing unparalleled growth and has recognized the need to integrate innovative solutions with traditional problems to address this. The project aims to nurture the local innovation ecosystem through the establishment of smart city infrastructure within the CBD and the construction of an innovation hub. 

The Hunter Innovation Project is a catalyst regional endeavour dedicated to the implementation of smart city infrastructure comprising 6 interconnected elements: a passive layer of fibre and conduit to support above-ground smart city tech; over 150 smart poles in the CBD which improve the efficiency of the lighting network and an improved ability to remotely monitor lights for planned and unplanned maintenance; a LoRaWAN network to provide low cost, low-power connectivity and support IoT sensors and data collecting devices; a Wi-Fi backbone within the city which provides alternate access to the Environmental Sensing Network and IoT platform as well offering free Wi-Fi to the public in the Newcastle CBD; Smart Parking via a networked system for monitoring the city’s car parking resources and provide information to drivers to enable more efficient use of parking network and reduce traffic congestion; and an environmental sensing network to record real time environmental data such as air quality, temperature, for use in research collaborations.

7. Smart Move Newcastle Transport Projects - City of Newcastle

The Smart Move Newcastle (SMN) project seeks to optimize multi-modal networks to deliver time critical, accessible options while promoting cycling, public transport and walking linkages to reduce reliance on private vehicles and the city's carbon footprint. This is not a standalone initiative but one that seamlessly contributes to the overall new future for the City.

Smart Move Newcastle comprises 21 sub-projects, of which a number are transport-related including

City E-Bikes with data-tracking functionality, and AV trials which involve the use of autonomous shuttles as last-mile connectors operating between light rail stops and final destinations in the city centre. 

The project also includes the creation of a City EV Charge Network and an e-Transit Hub. This suite of projects have numerous social, economic and environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions, reduced congestion, quicker commutes for citizens, regulatory framework innovation, increased user satisfaction - transport is where people want it when they want it, less road maintenance, and improved city planning and design due to gathered data insights.

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