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DTA’s Digital Marketplace supporting city councils across Australia under the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

A Map of Australia showing councils that are involved in building smarter cities (Image credit: Digital Marketplace, DTA)

Last December 2016, OpenGov wrote about the release of draft guidelines for AU$50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program in Australia. The program aims to help councils improve their communities through smart initiatives. TheAU$50 million in grants, available until 30 June, aims to encourage collaboration between local governments, private companies, research organisations and not-for-profit bodies.

In a blog post dated May 29, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) provided an update on the progress of its ongoing partnership with the program.

During a recently conducted discovery with local government, DTA found that many councils across Australia were already pooling tangible things, like services and resources. But they had no simple way of sharing the intangibles such as innovative ideas, pilots and lessons learned. DTA is stepping in to bridge this gap.

A new collaboration platform has been launched through the Digital Marketplace, to help councils develop their approach and find private sector partners that can help them to build their smart city.

Councils can sign up and post a brief on the Digital Marketplace to find digital expertise or realise a digital outcome. Currently, around 25% of registered buyers on the Marketplace are from local government.

DTA is organising Masterclasses and webinars under its smart cities incubator series called Future Ready, for information-sharing with councils just starting out on the journey.

DTA is also asking councils to share their projects with other councils, whatever stage it might be at. Councils have started sharing some of their initiatives. There are four projects mentioned in the blog. They range from an advanced 5D data modelling in Ipswich which has already built a strong foundation of smart city initiative to the City of Casey, which is beginning to explore the value of its asset data.

Ipswich City Council – 5D data modelling (Discovery phase)

The 5D data modelling initiative brings together streams of data from across the council to build a five dimensional view of city infrastructure. It starts with a three dimensional digital model of above and below ground city infrastructure, and overlays dimensions of data and time to produce the 5D Model.

The initiative also aims to further integrate Council data with state and federal government data as well as telecommunications and utility data and forwards the council’s agenda of maintaining a single point of truth and collaboration for city data.  

The 5D data model is expected to enable more effective and innovative planning, development, compliance, maintenance and research and provide a more tangible interface for traditionally complex and siloed city data.

It leverages on and brings together existing Ipswich Smart City Program initiatives. The Smart City Data Platform is used as the standard and source for many streams of city data including the initiatives on UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) Operations, Connected Transport, Healthy Living Lab, Sustainable Living, Connected City Lighting and Smart Parks, Buildings and Facilities.

The solution is being developed by the Application Studio. The Digital Service Standard single point of entry platform provides public access to the 5D Data Model.

City of Casey council – finding value in asset data (Discovery phase)

The City of Casey council owns assets across the City of Casey, including community facilities, roads, buildings, trees, parks, drains, sports grounds, play grounds and nature reserves.

The council maintains several datasets that contain information about these assets. But the asset data is stored across a range of disparate and inconsistently structured datasets. Each dataset is maintained to different standards. For instance, the parks and reserves dataset is regularly updated by dedicated resources, while the bus shelters dataset hasn’t been updated in the last three years.

The inconsistent nature of these datasets means they cannot be used to reliably inform long term budget or strategic planning decisions. The council believes that the most valuable datasets, relating to those assets where Council invests the most, are civil Assets (roads, paths, drains etc.), buildings, and sports grounds.

The council is seeking a data science expert from the Digital Marketplace for a period of 8 weeks to run a discovery process to assess the quality of the data and identify opportunities to use the data.

Adelaide City Council – smart city lighting (pilot phase)

The city of Adelaide concluded a Smart LED lighting pilot and is currently analysing the results. If successful, the council will consider rolling the lights out in more areas across the City.

The trial was divided into two phases with each lasting for approximately 2.5 weeks. In the first one, Movement-activated Light Dimming Function was trialled. Similar to the conventional lighting previously operating at the location, the LED lights were programmed to switch ON and OFF 15 minutes before the Sunset and after Sunrise official times. Lights were dimmed to a safe pre-determined lower ambient lighting level if movement sensors didn’t detect any pedestrians and/or traffic movement on the road or footpath. The system resumes normal lighting levels for the duration of activity, the moment it detects any movement from activity.

In the second trial, in addition to the Movement-activated Light Dimming, another function was tested. The system monitored ambient lighting from other sources such as shop-front lighting and temporary festival lighting. When significant additional light was present in the vicinity of the LED light, the LED would automatically dim to reduce the light produced by the LED by an amount corresponding to the additional vicinity light. This could create energy savings.

Sunshine Coast Council – automated underground waste collection (Build phase)

The Sunshine Coast is building Australia’s first, high-tech, automated waste collection system for a CBD. It will be installed in the new Maroochydore City Centre.

Instead of using wheelie bins, waste will be transported from commercial buildings and apartments at up to 70kmh through a 6.5km system of underground vacuum pipes located beneath Australia’s newest city centre.

The system will be installed in stages over the coming decade. It will cost AU$21 million, which will be fully recovered from occupants of the CBD over the life of the system.

Each building in the new CBD will include at least three waste inlets – for organic, recyclable and general waste. Waste dropped into each inlet will be stored in a sealed compartment below ground until the vacuum pump is activated at the central waste facility, usually twice each day.

The vacuum system will then consecutively collect each type of waste, sucking the waste through a system of underground pipes to the central facility, where they will be stored in sealed compactors for collection by council’s contractor.

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