The engagement and belief of users are two vital areas which need to be addressed if smart infrastructure — using sensors and communications technologies to better use and sustain important resources — is to be successfully adopted in Australia.
Discussing the issue in a blog post, Alan Noble, head of engineering at Google Australia said end users had to see the value in systems like smart electricity grids, and needed to retain control of their data in order to feel comfortable participating.
“We'll need to see an even greater mindset shift in both the public and private sector around sharing information, and a commitment to using open standards to stimulate innovation in smart applications,” the blog reads. “The Gov 2.0 agenda is a great step in the right direction.”
Noble said Australia would also need a regulatory environment that was conducive to the development of new services.
“We'll need enough wireless spectrum to support smart infrastructure which generally runs on a hybrid fibre-spectrum network, and the right regulatory framework around spectrum for the rapid growth of a variety of new devices and services,” the blog reads. “And we'll need to address questions around where all of this new data will be managed.”
According to Noble, all of this could be achieved by the right kind of collaboration between sectors, and by “playing some things a little smarter”.
“For example, let's only dig up ditches once and put the right stuff in them! That kind of cooperative thinking is going to turn this smart infrastructure dream into a reality for all Australians,” the blog reads.
Noble added that with the coming NBN rollout, Australia was perfectly placed to become a leader in the field of sensor networks.
“We need to make sure we integrate smart technology into our vital infrastructure to achieve things like reduced road congestion, improved water management, and maximised energy efficiency,” he wrote.
Potential uses of smart infrastructure include intelligent road transport systems that can actively manage congestion and breakdowns, remote sensing and monitoring of water resources that can lead to better management of ground and surface water, and more efficient energy markets and pricing.
The comments follow Noble’s participation in the Realising Our Broadband Future summit last week which focused on issues related to the National Broadband Network (NBN).