By the year 2020, the number of devices connected in the Internet of Things (IoT) network is expected to double. One major development that is already happening across the globe is the smart cities revolution. Using information and communication technologies (ICT), smart cities aim at delivering personalised and intelligent services to residents. Australia hasn’t been left behind in this and thanks to the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the country is now putting in place infrastructure that will facilitate development of smart cities.
Smart Cities Hotspots Around the World
Irrespective of the country or continent, cities face similar challenges such as traffic flow management, accidents, security, energy management, and urban life management. Smart cities integrate ICT into their operations to help them manage these day-to-day challenges. Below are good examples of such cities.
- San Diego – In partnership with GE, the city of San Diego is upgrading street lights to cut on energy costs. It aims at transforming the street lighting system into a connected digital network with ability to optimise traffic and parking, track air quality, and enhance public safety. The city is planning to deploy 3,200 smart sensors.
- Netherlands – In a bid to predict and prevent dangerous incidents, Netherlands has embarked on a program which installs microphones in light poles. As part of an integrated solution, the smart program uses big data analytics to detect signs of aggression in conversations without eavesdropping.
- Tel Aviv – In 2013, the Tel Aviv municipality launched Digitel, a mobile platform which allows citizens to interact with various municipal departments. It pulls together into a single place all the municipal services thereby creating a one-stop shop e-government. It also allows residents to report local hazards such as potholes and broken park benches directly via the municipal complaint line.
Australia’s Smartest Cities
The desire to make Australian cities more livable and prosperous is driving the integration of information technology into city management programs. Sustainable energy solutions are the main priority as the country seeks to enroll more homes and businesses into smart lighting technologies. Already, residents are embracing the use of smart solutions such as virtual assistance and smart thermostats.
- Melbourne – The installation of smart sensor technology and BigBelly bins in Melbourne is aimed at reducing overflow of waste in street bins. Once the bins hit 70% capacity, they send an alert to a control centre to facilitate emptying. The SmartGuide parking system in the city helps in detecting occupancy status of parking spaces and directing drivers to available bays. Through an open data platform, you can view real time city data.
- Adelaide – With the help of TPG, the city is planning a network rollout of 10 Gigabit starting 2018. This will facilitate smart programs such as smart city lighting with Cisco, smart parking, smart environmental monitoring, smart waste bins, and a smart city studio which is essentially an ecosystem for innovators to build products and services.
- Sunshine Coast – In partnership with Cisco and Telstra, Sunshine Coast created the Smart City Framework (SCF), a portfolio of 13 services. Some of the programs to be implemented include smart parking, smart power, smart water, smart waste management, smart transport, smart health, smart education, smart signage, smart citizens services, smart city Wi-Fi, and smart lighting.
- Newcastle – The Newcastle Smart City Program consists of a group of activities aimed at delivering smart services to residents. The main pillars of the smart initiative include the Hunter Innovation Project which lays the infrastructure, the Innovation Ecosystem which connects the networks and instrumental areas of specialisation, and the Newcastle Smart City Strategy which is a strategic planning document bringing together stakeholders and partners towards an innovative future.
The Smart Cities Sponsors
The Australian government has invested $50 million through the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. This initiative aims at supporting projects applying smart technology, people-focused designs, and data to improve livability of metropolitan areas.
Apart from the above program, the government also has the Smart Cities Plan which is more of a policy arm that supports productive, innovative, growth-oriented, accessible, and livable cities.
NBN Co, the Australian National Broadband Network has expressed interest in supporting smart initiatives especially the IoT network through a collaboration of cities and councils.
With all the initiatives and programs being fronted, there is need to examine the existing infrastructure and how it can be leveraged to support the various smart cities technologies. The advantage Australia has over many other countries is its strong telecom infrastructure. Using powerful servers, superfast communication, and smart end points, the country can provide mobile technology, connectivity, and data centre infrastructure that can help in driving innovation and investment in future smart cities.