This Australian council is using smart technology to improve city services

Surf life saving competitors at Mooloolaba Spit on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: iStock.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council has begun to implement “smart city” technology to improve services and take better care of the environment.

The council adopted a smart city implementation program in December 2016, which includes smart parking, free public WiFi, and smart waste management.

The council says, “the Smart City Framework balances improvements to quality of life, economic growth and environmental sustainability through the implementation of key technologies”.

As well as providing an amenity to the public, the council uses the free public WiFi as a data gathering tool to help provide services and to assist local businesses. Council’s Smart Centre Officer, Jacqui Gray, says that data collected from the WiFi network could be used to help businesses, for example by giving guidance on opening hours.

Speaking at CeBIT in Sydney, she gave the example of WiFi data showing peak usage at 6:30am when a local café doesn’t open until 7:00am. Council could provide this useful information to the business, helping them and the potential customers.

The council is also fitting sensors to garbage bins in public areas. This can provide data on how full they are. If there is an event on and the bins are fuller than normal, the council can schedule an extra pickup helping to reduce mess and odour. If the sensors show the bins are empty, then the council can reduce service, saving on truck use and labour.

Smart parking uses sensors and a smart phone app to alert drivers where to find empty parking spots. Beyond this the council website gives the example of a registered user. This person can receive a text message when their parking is about to expire and at the press of a button pay to extend their stay.

The internet of things is allowing connected devices to improve the efficiency of many day-to-day activities. It offers the potential to improve efficiency and service for business and government. The Sunshine Coast Council offers an example of some of these potential benefits.

For more on smart cities please see our Smart Infrastructure Report.

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