Most of Australia’s urban centres are currently experiencing a population explosion, but infrastructure development is not at all keeping pace.

Take Melbourne for example, its population growth is leading to geographic spread and putting pressure on public sector infrastructure.

Melbourne has been awarded liveable city again in 2015 (The Economist) but the liveability benefits largely stop at the end of the tram lines, with the primary benefits accessible only to inner city citizens.

Since the 1970s, its suburbs have expanded outwards, beyond the ring road in the north and west, and Dandenong in the south east. With this sprawl comes increased need to develop smart infrastructure that gives all residents access to quality public services, including utilities.

To remain the most liveable city, Melbourne needs to look beyond the tramlines and future proof infrastructure that opens up new opportunities to residents across the suburbs and inner city.

Smart cities are built on smart infrastructure, whereby the data generated will unearth new opportunities to manage resources, monitor waste and prevent loss or disaster. A higher level of disaster mitigation also needs to be considered – as Black Saturday demonstrated – with urban fringe areas more exposed to bushfire risk than ever before (The Age).

Significant investment in planning is a necessity and a great place to start is with digital infrastructure that can provide adequate and complete coverage. Where geographic location may traditionally impact access to utility maintenance and services, digital utilities can fill those gaps with wider coverage.

There are multiple benefits to implementing digital infrastructure including decreased leakage and water waste conserving our natural resources for society and more responsive utility companies, with time freed up for better, more targeted customer service for people.

For utilities there will be less maintenance and a reduction in non-revenue water and more control during natural disasters.

Smart cities come in all sizes. In Monaca, Pennsylvania the city made key improvements to its water system by incorporating a communications network, coupled with leak detection, with the aim to save more than $2.6 million by 2026. The results were immediate and impressive with the system finding a leak that had been spilling more than 200,000 gallons of water per day for two decades.

At the same time, population growth in Hong Kong has spurred the city to implement a number of smart city measures; skyscraper foundations that double as hybrid ventilation, and smart street lights that conserve energy and double as a safety system.

Smart cities create new opportunities for data analysis, research and innovation that will enable the transformation of all industries (NICTA), where the provision of utilities is geographically wide it is mirrored in job creation.

The smart cities that have successfully reduced wastage and boosted economic growth by investing in public services (Forbes) include:

  • Surrey, Canada: who are using smart city functions to improve liveability and better engage with citizens, and building clusters in health and clean technology and advanced manufacturing
  • Fountain Valley, California are conserving water through a smart water network that helps to prevent leaks and monitor drought conservation regulations to meet city-wide goal of a 20-percent drop in water use
  • Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: The Rio Datamine have an open-data system making available large amounts of city information which has incentivised businesses and boosted the economy

Kansas City, Kansas is also a smart city, using initiatives that include Sensus technology to monitor and control capacitor banks through Community Kiosks and Living Lab. These are based on innovating and commercialising internet of things technologies, which are tested and validated in Kansas City.

The ability to map and predict the flow of energy and water based on demographic, geographic and weather related information helps us to know more about ourselves. In turn we can market, provide solutions and communicate in smarter ways.

Australia is on the cusp of great change and if planned for, every citizen will have fair access to public services and resources.

About Sensus 

Sensus helps to enhance technologies and communication networks with products and services that collect data more quickly. Sensus offers services to plan, install and operate your smart infrastructure systems and provides products for every point of your infrastructure.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved


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