Adelaide is ideally placed to become a Smart City.

The capital of South Australia, Adelaide, is internationally renowned for its arts festivals, fine wines and competitive sporting teams. However, the decline of the state’s manufacturing industry prompted local authorities to review ways of making Adelaide a more attractive proposition for residents, visitors and businesses. The outcome is a progressive digital agenda based on Smart City technologies developed in partnership with world-class vendors such as Cisco.

The Smart City agenda evolved from a memorandum of understanding between the South Australian Government and Adelaide City Council to deploy a free public Wi-Fi network across the city. Working with Cisco and the state government, the Council began considering how the network could improve the delivery of services to citizens.

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The agenda now incorporates a series of projects such as smart parking and smart lighting, many of which are due to be rolled out over the next several years. The smart lighting project entails replacing the halogen bulbs in city streetlights with LED equivalents and attaching a smart sensor to each bulb to enable light to be adjusted based on factors such as time of day or movement nearby. The smart parking project uses technologies such as cameras and sensors to determine how long a car has stayed in a parking spot.

Adelaide

Bud Kapoor, Sales Manager, Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco, said the involvement of state and local government in Adelaide’s Smart City program removed obstacles to using Smart City technologies to boost the performance of services provided by government, such as traffic or resident safety. Peter Auhl, Chief Information Officer of Adelaide City Council, agreed — adding that the technologies could also be used to meet the council’s access and inclusion priorities for people with impairments.

Mr Kapoor also said Adelaide represented an ideal test-bed for technologies that could later be deployed statewide and then nationally.

Mr Auhl believes Adelaide is ideally placed to become a Smart City for two reasons:

• The partnership between the state government and the council commits the two authorities to collaborate effectively to drive common outcomes for the community; and
• The size of the city and the calibre of innovation and lateral thinking by stakeholders are ideal for Adelaide to easily navigate the transition to a Smart City.

He also points out that the Smart City agenda dovetails well with the council’s plans for the city to become carbon-neutral.

Citizen-led rather than infrastructure-led

Adelaide City Council and partners such as Cisco agreed early that to be successful, the Smart City initiative had to be driven by the needs of residents and visitors, rather than infrastructure development priorities. “The agenda is very much about how we can change the day to day lives of our citizens and how they interact with the city,” says Mr Auhl.

Adelaide

He cites as examples plans for the smart parking technologies to offer functionality that guides visitors in the Adelaide central business district to available car parks. It could also include tools that remind people shopping in retail precincts that their tickets to park are about to expire and offer them the option of topping them up.

Solving new challenges

While many Smart City projects are in the pilot stage, Mr Auhl says Adelaide City Council and its partners remain on the lookout for challenges that Smart City technologies can solve when people interact with the city, its information and its services. He points out that while some projects involve Council “guiding the way” for Adelaide residents and visitors, other projects aim simply to provide information to enable people to decide how they interact with the city. “For example, if someone is considering taking their car into the city, we can give them information about congestion levels or weather conditions so they can make an informed decision,” says Mr Auhl.

Adelaide

Supporting urban planning and development

The Internet of Things is opening up new opportunities for the Smart City program to improve urban planning and development. Mr Auhl notes that Adelaide City Council is preparing to deploy sensors to capture data about environmental indicators such as noise. This information can then be analysed and used to inform decisions about the acoustic properties of new buildings in the city.

Mr Auhl and Adelaide City Council are extremely conscious of the need to secure community support for the Smart City program and allay concerns over the type and security of information captured. “The early stages of all our projects are about building trust and ensuring the services are secure, reliable and valuable to people,” he says. “For example, one of the first phases of our smart lighting project involved conducting a security audit of the infrastructure.” He points out that security will also be a key priority in a current project to build the data architectures that consolidate and manage all the information captured by Smart City systems.

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