by Mark Halliwell, Taggle Systems

Smart cities are now official. The Australian Government has a smart cities plan, city deals, a smart cities and suburbs program and there was a Smart Cities Summit in April. Hardly a day goes by without news of a town or city launching its smart city initiative. But what exactly is a smart city?

Answers can be varied, vague and, in some cases, pure vapourware. However, a recent report by the National League of Cities (USA) titled Trends in Smart City Development started with this: “Smart city initiatives involve three components: information and communication technologies (ICTs) that generate and aggregate data; analytical tools which convert that data into usable information; and organisational structures that encourage collaboration, innovation, and the application of that information to solve public problems”. Sounds reasonable, but how do you get started?

Well, it may come as a surprise, but many Australian communities are already well on their way towards becoming a smart city or smart community without realising it. Twenty-two councils and water utilities around the country are currently using Taggle’s Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) to collect massive amounts of data from water meters, pressure transducers, and other sensors installed throughout their water infrastructure.

On a daily basis Taggle delivers 2,532,285 readings to their customers; data which they are using in billing systems, SCADA, GIS, hydraulic models, meter data management software, and web-based customer portals. The last one, customer portals, are important new channels for customer engagement which benefit both councils and customers.

Managing infrastructure and delivering services to the community are core business for a local council, and doing so more efficiently is a high priority. Asked to provide more and more services with little or no increases in rates revenue, councils are looking for every opportunity to reduce their service delivery costs and extract maximum value from resources. And, where water security is a problem, they are seeking new ways to ensure that water losses are kept as low as possible.

The Australian Government, recognising that “local governments are at the frontline of urban service delivery”, is providing $50 million to support “projects that apply innovative technology-based approaches to improve the liveability of cities and their suburbs”. One of the priority areas for this funding is smart infrastructure with the aim of “improving the safety, efficiency, reliability and delivery of essential services”. What could be more essential than water?

Round one of the funding available under the smart cities and suburbs program will support “deployment-ready” projects that are able to start within two months of funding being granted.

Taggle is ready to deploy its network in your area at very short notice and we have devices to help you start collecting data and getting results straight away. Within hours of connecting your water meters to our network, for example, we can send data which will identify potential leaks on your customers’ properties. Once repaired, they’ll save water and money, and your council will have happy customers. Over time, the data will help reduce non-revenue water losses and assist in raising community awareness of the need to use water wisely.

In his November 2016 Utility article, Stephen Fernando of Mackay Regional Council wrote in considerable detail about how his community reduced water consumption by 12 per cent, how the council expects to charge less for water in future years, and how a major investment planned for 2020 has been deferred to 2032. Sounds like a smart community to me!

So, if your community wants to be a smart community, get onto Taggle’s Low Power Wide Area Network and just add water!

This partner content is brought to you by Taggle. For more information, visit www.taggle.com.au. 

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