Sunshine Coast leading the smart city movement

Last update on May 28, 2017.

Sunshine Coast leading the smart city movement

Sunshine Coast Council hosted the inaugural Australian Smart Communities Summit in Caloundra. The fact that the event happened there is a reflection of the commitment that this council has to the development of a smart city.

One of the most critical elements here is leadership, and both the mayor and the CEO are passionate about this development and are leading the process from the top. This also results in a holistic approach and, where possible, developments are aligned to create synergy, cost savings and a better outcome. For this purpose they are blending smart city developments into their urban improvements or other infrastructure builds, rather than putting additional pressure on ratepayers.

It comes as no surprise that the president of the Australian Smart Community Association, Michael Whereat, heads the smart city developments at Sunshine Coast Council.

At the opening of the conference the Mayor of the Sunshine Coast Council, Mark Jamieson, provided a passionate overview of the developments so far. He mentioned that at an early stage council recognised the potential for its region to be a dynamic location for digital solutions and innovation, and this spurred them on to create their Smart City Framework. This framework provides a holistic picture of how smart and integrated utilisation of technologies can transform the region. It also demonstrates how they can claim a clear competitive advantage, support sustainable growth, encourage new investment and improve everyday access to information and services – for business and their communities. The framework also includes a full program of initiatives that they will progressively look to implement.

There are a number of local projects that are ideally suited to being explored for synergy by putting them in a holistic context. They include:

  • The expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport to deliver a new international standard runway – construction is expected to commence in late 2016.
  • The $1.8 billion new Sunshine Coast University Hospital that is due to open in the Kawana Health Precinct at the end of 2016.
  • Council’s 15 megawatt, grid-connected solar farm – construction of this will commence in the coming months, and by mid-2017 Council will be offsetting 100% of its electricity needs with energy from renewables.
  • The development of what they claim to be ‘Australia’s only greenfield central business district’ the Maroochydore CBD, now known as SunCentral.

On the project side, smart technologies will be used to build the new City Centre. These include smart lighting, smart parking, and smart water and vacuum waste systems, the latter being Australia’s first underground pneumatic waste system. Rubbish will be removed from locations across the CBD by the equivalent of a big underground vacuum cleaner.

Last year’s Hackfest produced several great solutions and the winner was a smart parking app which is currently proceeding towards commercialisation.

In order to promote its dynamic location for digital solutions and innovation council already operates a Living Lab in Caloundra and is implementing the first stage of the Sunshine Coast Framework – SC Smart – into the urban street-scaping in Bulcock Street.

As they put those technologies in place council will be in a position to understand how they can take them from smaller locations and deploy them across the region. They understand that they need to use these technologies to scale.

There are two specific projects on the telecoms side …..

Council has made a submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to have a cable protection zone declared off the Sunshine Coast, which will enable the private sector to deliver Queensland’s first international broadband submarine cable connection and create a smarter, more agile community of the future.

On the local scene Wi-Fi will be rolled out across Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland, Buderim Village Park and Maroochydore throughout 2016.  This will provide greater access to public Wi-Fi and help with council’s location-based data analytics to provide a better-informed way of managing service needs in those locations in the future. As the opportunity arises council will deploy these technologies further across the region.

Another smart initiative was establishing the council’s Disaster Hub, an innovative online delivery of services bringing resources together in one spot. In times of natural disaster the region now has a greater ability to communicate with its community and those agencies supporting the emergency response and management. They are also using 3D modelling to improve how to make better decisions for different locations.

Paul Budde


Lake Mac takes significant step in becoming a Smart City

Lake Macquarie City Council has laid the foundation for creating a more connected, innovative and resilient city, with the adoption of the Lake Mac Smart City, Smart Council Digital Economy Strategy.

The strategy identifies 18 initiatives that will help boost the local economy, improve Council’s performance, and ultimately enhance the lifestyle of residents.

As part of the Strategy, Council will be using video content when publishing Council news, is investigating the use of solar-powered mobile device recharging benches at parks, has introduced smart meters and solar panels at community facilities and is supporting co-working space.

Other initiatives identified in the Strategy include rolling out free Wi-Fi in Council operated spaces, developing an online tool to improve community access to property flood information and conditions, implementing smart infrastructure and smart systems and investigating options for replacing Council’s ageing mobile library.

I am honoured to have played an advisory role in this exiting smart city development.

Paul Budde

Click here for more info.


Hot cities: the ‘smart’ response to urban heat threats

Significant urban policy and planning efforts have been directed at the problem of rising heat in cities.

“Smart” cities create new relationships and interdependencies between people, technology and urban environments. The concept rests on the efficient, responsive and adaptive capacities of urban infrastructure. But how well does the smart city respond to the devastating scale and impact of urban heat threats such as bushfires and heatwaves?

The Australian Medical Association has warned heat is a “silent killer”. It notes that more Australians die each year due to heat than on the roads. Heatwaves have contributed to more deaths in Australia than any other natural disaster.

Bushfires are also expected to increase, with significant impacts on Australian cities and urban communities such as the greater Melbourne region.

This is a pressing issue for Australian cities and urban regions, at a time when Australian climatologists are warning of the increasing frequency, severity and duration of heatwaves and bushfires. Read full article.


Australia: National Carbon Offset Standard expanded to buildings, precincts, cities

The federal government has announced the National Carbon Offset Standard will be extended to buildings, precincts and cities, expanding the standard’s reach from carbon neutral businesses, products, services and events. The move is in response to requests from industry, cities and the community to expand the scheme, which provides carbon neutral certification.

The government is now in the process of establishing an expert committee for carbon neutral precincts and cities, with the goal to have Australia’s first officially certified and operating carbon neutral precinct or city by January 2017.

The committee will have representation from major cities, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the Green Building Council of Australia, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System and the CRC for Low Carbon Living. Read full article.


Victoria trials satellite scans to detect water leaks from space

Victoria's government is taking to the skies to detect water leaks underground, and has completed a pilot program using high-tech satellite scanning to reduce water wasted through broken pipes.

Up to 160 million litres of drinking water is lost to leaks in Victoria every day. This equates to 12 percent of the total annual water revenue for Victoria.

The water authorities  have partnered with an Israeli company called Utilis to undertake a pilot in December that would verify whether they could in fact detect leaks through scans from space. The satellite system picked up 18 faults in just four days. Read full article.


Port Augusta pushes for federal support for solar tower power plant

Representatives of the Port Augusta community in South Australia have pushed the federal Coalition government for funding support for a proposed 110MW solar tower power plant with storage to replace the coal-fired generator that is scheduled to close in less than two months.

Members of Repower Port Augusta took their message to Canberra on Wednesday, pushing for up to $100 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to help ensure that the solar tower plant, which features molten storage and could operate around the clock, will be built. Read full article.


Construction begins on second solar farm in ACT

Nearly three years after winning a tender in the ACT government’s first reverse auction program for large-scale renewables, a 13MW solar farm has begun construction on the outskirts of Canberra.

The Mugga Lane solar farm – to be the second largest in the ACT behind the already completed Royalla solar farm (20MW) – is being built by Chinese company Zhenfa Australia, now known as Maoneng Group following a buyout of the local company by management.

Over the past five years, the ACT Government has attracted more than $1.5 billion in renewable energy investment, which has supported a 400% growth in renewable energy jobs. Read full article.


US cities that are fighting trash with technology

City resources are usually limited both for cleaning up the mess and catching those responsible for it. San Jose and Dallas are examples of two different approaches.

San Jose has launched an app that citizens can use to report illegal dumping; the city plans to analyze the data to uncover hotspots and concentrate enforcement efforts on them. Dallas, meanwhile, has installed motion-activated cameras in strategic areas; most of its illegal dumping problem has been in more rural areas.

Baltimore and Los Angeles are giving people more options for discarding their waste. Baltimore plans to install more than 200,000 garbage cans around the city; Los Angeles is adding another 5,000 on the streets.

Data show this works. Baltimore installed 11,000 garbage cans during a pilot project. The number of calls it got about rat infestations dropped by 26%.

Washington, D.C., and Kirkland, Washington, are using Enevo’s sensors to monitor waste levels in their receptacles.

This accomplishes two things. First, the city doesn’t have to waste resources sending up trucks to empty trash bins that are already mostly empty. Second, it may help to cut down on illegal dumping by ensuring that when citizens want to throw something away, they aren’t constrained by a bin that’s already full

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