Smart cities – using data to drive change in Australia
Data-driven technology continues to take centre stage in more integrated and immersive ways than ever before. While benefits include improving organisations, buildings as well as everyday life for all of us, they must stack up against the risks, including privacy issues, issues collecting data and less users in buildings due to Covid.
We’re here for it, so we’ve stepped inside five projects to see how they’re impacting the industry.
1. Northern Melbourne Smart Cities Network – NMSCN (Victoria)
In a collaboration between councils, universities and industry funded by the Australian government, the NMSCN has developed the largest open-access IoT network in Victoria. The network features around 50 IoT gateways – mostly powered by fully-sustainable solar cells – and 300 sensors to help councils collect and analyse real-life data and transition into smarter cities. The award-winning LoRaWAN IoT-based network collects data by integrating five types of sensors including counting people, air quality and environmental monitoring, water level monitoring, waste management collection and tracking assets. And as a new open network, it also enables residents to bring their own sensors and use the network as well.
Dr Ikram Al-Hourani, project Lead Investigator and senior lecturer at RMIT University says, ‘Imagine the different applications: from environmental monitoring, freight tracking, smart buildings, to smart lighting that can run on such network. For the future, I would really like to see more of these kind of projects in Australia combining, the knowledge, innovation, and experience of universities, industry, and government to serve the prosperity of our community.’
View the video project introduction here. Credit: Dr Akram Al-Hourani et al., RMIT University
2. Googong Smart Community: Smart Suburbs Blueprint (NSW)
In the self-contained township of Googong, in New South Wales, a small community is thinking big when it comes to futureproofing. Developers Peet and Mirvac, together with Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, have created a blueprint that embeds digital technology into the master-planned community from day one. Highlights include an integrated water cycle system, digital-enabled waste and facilities management systems, electric car infrastructure and public Wi-Fi, plus lighting and environmental systems to reduce the town’s carbon footprint and overhead costs. The benefits include increasing local liveability, sustainability, safety and amenity of place.
For residents, real-time information through an app enables services including parking availability, toilet occupancy, BBQ availably, environmental data, electric vehicle charging locations and availability and future smart services. Googong project director, Malcolm Leslie says, ‘As Googong is possibly the first development in Australia to roll-out this kind of smart infrastructure on such a large scale, it was imperative we gather data, as well as first-hand feedback from our residents, to help future developers create a Smart Community that is economically sustainable.’
3. Sixty Martin Place (Sydney)
Completed at the end of 2019, Sixty Martin Place in the heart of Sydney’s CBD is a state-of-the-art, first of its kind ‘smart building’ by developer, Investa. In collaboration with the progressive owners (Gwynvill and ICPF), Investa set out to create a unique, intelligent building using an industry-leading ‘Technology Stack’, which utilises over 28,000 live data points through an array of IoT devices and building equipment on every floor. The award-winning building also showcases Australia’s first fully-integrated Digital Twin – an exact virtual 3D replica model of the physical building and its systems – which captures all the building’s physical assets live from design, project delivery, operational data through to maintenance logs. Together, the ecosystem creates an integrated management platform to monitor base build and tenant systems together, optimise building operation and changing environmental and local tenant use conditions. For example, tenants use another industry-first app developed by Investa – Insite – with secure and scalable control functionality over touchless building access, lift control, room and end-of-trip locker booking, and carpark sharing access.
According to Shen Chiu, Investa’s national development director, Covid has affected the building’s occupancy, so has yet to operate at 100 per cent, but the benefits are still incredibly valuable. Importantly, he says that the secure communications infrastructure, the backbone of the technology stack, allows the building to capture previously silo-ed data from the multitude of IoT-enabled building services equipment and devices, into its integrated systems platform (effectively an augmented BMCS), and then the Digital Twin. ‘In operation, we now house all of our ‘structured’ data in a cloud based data-lake, and are working with data scientists using AI software to offer proactive actions to the operations team, and even predictive insights into how to better tune and maintain the building,’ he says.
4. Veyor Digital
Dubbed as the ‘Uber Eats’ for construction, Veyor Digital, is an app that helps manage supply chain coordination in complex work environments. Used by big players including Scentre Group, GPT, Dexus and JLL, the Australian app is a central, live platform with end-to-end coverage and full project data to provide a better understanding of use and performance – in real time. It also includes driver access, tracking capability for live logistics and safety aspects to ensure trucks on the road are compliant with obligations.
According to Veyor’s director, Mark Howard, supply chain management is a common problem across the global facility management industry too. He witnessed this firsthand as more and more facility managers started to reach out to his team. ‘There’s been no effective solution until now,’ he says. ‘And that’s what Veyor does – it links building and dock managers, tenants, suppliers, couriers and drivers onto an easy-to-use scheduling app to streamline the coordination and booking of available docks, goods lifts and common areas.’ By simplifying the information exchange in supply chain management, the app optimises operational efficiency without the need for additional personnel. Howard says, ‘It’s becoming the one easy app for all daily scheduling and access management requirements.’