The University of Adelaide is working with local and state government, entrepreneurs and industry to help the transformation of Adelaide into a "smart city". Think wi-fi, sensors and data gathering to find out how to better run the place.
The initiative is a part of the new Australian Smart Cities Consortium, and the City of Prospect is kicking off with "smart parks" - new low-band wi fi and "other technologies" will gather information about use of public spaces so they can be better managed, maintained and provide what the public want.
"Smart cities initiatives are about making cities better for the people who live there," says Associate Professor Nick Falkner, Director of the University of Adelaide's Australian Smart Cities Consortium. "Smart city thinking makes good use of rapidly developing technology to help to make cities work better, easier to navigate, safer, healthier and more enjoyable places to live."
Professor Falkner says a big part of that is information gathering, without compromising privacy – seeing how people use the infrastructure and public spaces, keep track of resource use, finding out what people want in their city.
"The work carried out in Prospect by members of the Consortium will involve using non-camera based sensors – ensuring there is no personal identification or invasion of privacy – to be able to analyse how people are using the parks at different times and monitor what’s happening in the park," Professor Falkner says.
"For example, sensors could tell us how the play equipment is being used. If one of the swings stands out as unused, then the council would know that it may need some repair or maintenance."
Professor Falkner says gathering usage date will also help the council know where it needs to mow, where to apply more water, how to better manage traffic and services at events – all designed to enhance efficiency and make a more enjoyable experience for the people using these facilities.
City of Prospect Acting Mayor Mark Groote said that the agreement between six local government bodies, led by Prospect, to implement and harness new technology "is another step towards a digital future, which will ultimately benefit communities using our public spaces, and Councils in the way we manage parks, gardens and play spaces".
"This collaborative project will see a linked series of sensors that will provide useful data for a major swathe of Adelaide's northern, western and eastern suburbs, from the coast to the foothills," Groote says.
Experts from across the University's five faculties are part of the Australian Smart Cities Consortium, working at city-scale and supporting development of policy, new products, designs and services.
"Our smart cities initiative is unique because of our ability to link smart science and technology to social well-being and business outcomes because of the broad range of research disciplines the Consortium brings together," says Professor Mike Brooks, University of Adelaide Interim Vice-Chancellor.
"Our students will have the opportunity to work alongside researchers in computing, engineering and sciences together with urban design and other social and economic disciplines – producing real benefits for the people of Adelaide."
Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the agreement between local governments, the university and industry would benefit the community by using technology to make life easier and safer.
"By integrating the latest technologies in our everyday lives to become a smart city, we can use science and technology to make our living environments even better," Mr Maher says. "This in turn provides valuable support for our entrepreneurs and high tech industries, making South Australia an even more attractive place to live and invest."
Other initial projects will include developing best practice in the ethics and governance of personal data across a wide range of platforms; "Smart wayfinding and connected places" in Port Adelaide as part of the city redevelopment: a virtual exploration of the Port Adelaide centre; Campus food gardens: demonstrating Indigenous knowledge, plant conservation, and sustainable gardening on campus; and Virtual Overlay Beacon Application: adding information overlays to physical objects across the University of Adelaide campus.