South East Queensland championed as potential 'smart region'

Area could use digital technology, real-time data to improve public services

Intelligent lighting, automated water and power metering could help South East Queensland to become a so-called 'smart region' according to a new report released by Cisco.

South East Queensland: A Smart Region canvassed the opinions of over 1000 residents.

The report is the first step towards the creation of a smart city index developed by the vendor to analyse and compare major cities throughout Australia and New Zealand based on their potential to harness smart solutions to improve quality of life and drive economic growth.

The focus of the index will be on how the community can interact with cities in inclusive, digitally mediated ways.

“It is evident that the community has considerable appetite for the ability to access and use relevant information to guide their choices and for real-time data to enable delivery of more efficient, responsive public services,” read the report.

The residents identified the need for solutions which could enable more efficient public transport, resilient roads and infrastructure.

For example, intelligent lighting could lead to a 57 per cent reduction in a city’s energy costs. The savings in managing an electricity network would be passed on to consumers.

Smart lighting involves the fitting of sensors to existing street lighting infrastructure to detect movement of cars, bikes and pedestrians. The sensors are used to detect the street usage and can be automatically dimmed or turned off and on depending on whether they are being used, said the report.

According to the report, more frequent public transport services with real time information for commuters would mean better journey planning and fewer delays.

“Using smart public transport concepts a commuter living in North Lakes may be able to wake up and check their smartphone to see when they are best to leave home for their commute to Toowong and the best way of getting there that morning,” read the report.

“After showering and getting ready, they could receive a notification that, the train they were expecting to catch is expected to be full by the time it reaches Petrie from Caboolture and that if they wanted to stay at home for an extra 10 minutes they would be able to catch the next train in comfort and still arrive before they needed to be at work.”

Resilient infrastructure could use the Internet of Things (IoT) to manage storm water systems while essential services would learn from the last emergency. There would also be effective and targeted evacuations based on real time data.

The report shared the example of a family in a low lying area of the state receiving news that a major storm is on the way.

Water storage and flood mitigation dams have started to release some of their water holdings to make room for the storm water to come.

"Major water tanks, in electronic communication with each other and dam operators, begin to release their tanks to ensure that they don’t overflow during the storm and capture as much water as possible when the storm water system is under the most strain,” read the report.

As a result of these measures the damage to property is mitigated and the stormwater system is not overloaded, causing localised flooding.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was keen to embrace the benefits of a being a smart region.

“The future of cities and regions and their ability to create enduring employment opportunities are entirely linked to their digital capabilities,” he said.

“That is one of the reasons why the Sunshine Coast Council is taking the approach that it is to build-in the infrastructure and solutions from the ground up with its new city centre at Maroochydore.”

The master planning process for Maroochydore includes rail based public transport and possibly future light rail. The enhanced public transport network also includes pedestrian and cycle connections through the city.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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