The below image of Melbourne city may look like a stereotypical postcard scene, but if you observe more closely, you'll see countless examples of smart city technologies.
Over the years, Melbourne, like Australia's other main cities, has made a move to become smarter in all aspects. While these smart changes aren't obvious to the human eye, they offer numerous benefits to all end users.
How many smart city solutions are you already aware of?
Smart wheelie bins
Smart waste management is a core component of smart city ideals. Tracking waste management helps operational staff better address environmental issues, reduce operational costs and optimise waste systems. This is necessary for a city like Melbourne, which is currently home to nearly five million residents and welcomes an average of 30 million domestic and international visitors each year (Victorian Government data). As such, the city's bins collect around 4,800 tonnes of waste each year, according to the City of Melbourne.
City officials realised it was extremely hard to monitor when bins needed emptying, and thus, overflowing often occurred. To combat this problem, planners added smart sensors to existing bins. Once a bin hits 70 per cent capacity, the sensor sends an alert letting staff members know, so it can be emptied within the hour. This initiative provides more efficiency and accuracy, as well as reducing the amount of traffic congestion caused by large waste trucks.
Melbourne's city bins collect around 4,800 tonnes of waste each year.
Smart and sustainable LED lighting solutions
Energy management and security are two other important aspects of the smart city model. Melbourne has combined these two features in its LED street light project. City officials realised that the previous lighting system was outdated, and advancements were needed in order to become smarter. Therefore, they decided to switch all old street light bulbs out for LED counterparts – nearly 4,000 in fact. This decision helped increase energy efficiency – something old lighting was hindering.
Talking to the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia, Councillor Arron Wood, Chair of the City of Melbourne's Environment Portfolio, explained that the new LED lights would use 56 per cent less power than previous lights.
Not only will the LED lamps reduce emissions and costs, they also improve safety within the city. Speaking to IoTHub, City of Melbourne's chief digital officer and smart city office manager, Michelle Fitzgerald, explained that comprehensive public lighting vastly improves visibility for pedestrians.
"If someone is walking down the street at night, the lights will brighten, and then will dim once that person has passed the area," she explained.
Smart parking management
Efficiency is another key aspect of smart cities. Implementing solid parking solutions falls under this umbrella. All major cities in Australia struggle with traffic and congestion problems, with searching for a parking spot adding to this issue.
Therefore, cities looking to become smarter have introduced smart parking management systems. Such networks are run on the Internet of Things (IoT) ideals, where core components are connected via wirelessly-transmitted technology. Through real-time transmission, these components can interact and exchange data – all of which is wired back to the end user, such as operational staff or drivers.
One example of smart parking technology comes in the form of sensors.The use of camera or subterranean sensors are installed to monitor parking bays and the activity of a car's movement from the moment it enters and exits the space. For drivers in the city, the sensor sends information to a smartphone application letting them know it's free. For enforcement officers, this information lets them know when a car has overstayed and therefore when fines should be issued while providing occupancy statistics.
While all are not visible to the human eye at all times, smart city technology is constantly working hard to improve the lives of everyone in its boundaries. To find out how you can become smarter, get in touch with the parking management experts at Duncan Solutions today.