The University of Adelaide and five local councils have unveiled a plan to transform South Australia’s capital into a smart city.
Creating ‘smart parks’ will be a key focus under the Australian Smart Cities Consortium. The university will work with the City of Prospect and other local councils to use low-band Wi-Fi and other technologies to gather information about use of public spaces so they can be better managed and maintained.
Under the ‘Connected Places’ program, a linked series of sensors will provide useful data from a major swathe of Adelaide’s northern, western and eastern suburbs. Other local councils involved in the initiative are Burnside, Campbelltown, Playford, and Port Adelaide-Enfield.
A City of Prospect spokesperson told CIO Australia that the council made an initial approach to the university and other universities in Victoria about the possibility of connecting council areas using low-band Wi-Fi technology. He said this Wi-Fi technology is cheap and the use of sensors that don’t have cameras ensures there are no privacy issues.
The five councils have initially invested about $150,000 for what the spokesperson described as a ‘small test project.’ The City of Prospect is applying for more funding under the federal government’s $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs program. The council spokesperson was unsure how much money would be needed to ‘wire up’ Adelaide.
“We are hoping that [funding is available] by the end of this year so the research teams in the Wi-Fi area can then work with the private sector to say, ‘what are the best sensors, how do we monitor this?’ They can then work on the practical applications,’” he said.
As an example, sensors could tell councils how play equipment is being used, said consortium director, Adelaide University professor, Nick Falkner.
“If one of the swings stands out as unused, then the council would know that it may need some repair or maintenance,” Falkner said.
Gathering usage data will also help the council work out where it needs to mow, where to apply more water, and how to better manage traffic and services at events, he added.
Other initial projects will include developing best practice in the ethics and governance of personal data across several platforms, and smart wayfinding and connected places in Port Adelaide as part of the city redevelopment.
Food gardens will also be rolled out at the Adelaide University campus, as well as virtual overlay beacon application that adds information overlays to physical objects across the campus.
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