Until now we have been exploring the smart transformations happening in the major cities of Australia. But today it is about spurring development that is turning a laid back city into a smart urban environment. We are talking about the City of Darwin, situated in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia.
The city of Darwin is enwrapped by a vibrant and lively atmosphere consisting of a highly multicultural population. In fact, the city is home to people from over 70 nationalities. Tourists find the city of the Northern Territory equal to what the southern cities have to offer. Today, Darwin is an important centre for business and industry and is described as Australia’s gateway to south-east Asia. These facts are most likely to be the reason behind choosing the city to become the next smart city of Australia.
It is interesting to know what new elements have been added to this new smart city. Let’s explore it!
The Beginning Of A New Urban Environment
The transformative vision to establish the new Darwin began with the key drivers which include enhancement of public safety, environmental sustainability, reduction in heat and carbon emission, the efficiency of the service delivery and equitable access to services.
Eventually, this gave rise to the largest smart city project in Australia called “Switching on Darwin”.
Interestingly, the vision to make Darwin “a smart, liveable, productive and sustainable capital”, the city was accomplished as per the decided time and budget.
The funding which required $10M in total was allocated by the federal government ($5M) and the northern territory ($2.5M) while the rest came from the city of Darwin.
The project was completed by upgrading street lights with 912 LED smart lights, installation of 138 CCTV cameras and the extension of city WiFi with 39 new hotspots. In addition, it included the installation of 24 environmental sensors, smart parking sensors, vehicle and pedestrian analysis movement sensors and an audio system in the mall.
Let’s talk about some of the deployments in detail.
The 24 environmental sensors are mostly installed in the central business district (CBD) of Darwin. These smart sensors are designed to capture data related to humidity levels, rainfall level, noise level, dust level, temperature, wind speeds and direction, CO2 levels, Ozone levels, and NO2 levels.
After the data gathered is fed into a fully integrated dashboard where it is analysed by the City of Darwin and opened for access to other organisations on request. Plus, the key data is made available publicly through a snapshot on the official website of the city.
The data gathered by sensors will enable the city to understand the local environmental factors clearly thereby helping improve decision-making, planning and service delivery.
The traditional streetlights in the city are replaced by smart LED lights, owing to its proven benefits. When required, the lights can be dimmed or brightened for a particular area or an event at the request of Police to help prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. Besides, the lights have the capability to sense the changes in the intensity of natural light. For example, if there is an incident of a storm when it becomes quite dark, the lights will automatically switch on to the required level of light.
Apart from the benefits mentioned, the energy savings due to LED lights will bring in huge cost savings for the city. It will offer flexibility to the city and the NT Police to adjust lighting conditions to respond to certain activities happening in the city including events in the CBD.
The installation and location of the new CCTV cameras have been planned in collaboration with the police. Now, the CBD is equipped with additional surveillance systems that will help the police in keeping an eye over anti-social behaviour or crime in the region. Moreover, these smart cameras will also capture data related to vehicle and pedestrian movements in the city which will help in enhancing the delivery of services.
People concerned about privacy should know that the data is not collected on a personal level. The council will have anonymised data in statistical information which will include the number of people present in a particular area, vehicle movement, the directions people travel and the frequent routes used in the city. The council will utilise the data in planning for a better future of the city. In addition, it is important to note that the cameras will not record audio. However, it will have microphones attached to collect data related to noise levels in order to monitor environmental noise levels such as construction or traffic noise pollution.
The Vision For A Better City
As stated by Kon Vatskalis, mayor of Darwin, the successful completion of “Switching on Darwin” has positioned the city as a leader in innovation. He continued saying that now the city has tools to better understand the local conditions and enhance the liveability standards and the delivery of services to the community.
As the project has reached its completion, the city is now focusing on implementing a fully integrated system that will be available by the end of June 2019.
The ‘Switching on Darwin’ project was a vital component of the federal government’s commitment to keeping Darwin a safe and better place (improving public amenities) for residents and visitors.
This project is part of the city’s intention to use the CBD to conduct the initial trial with the first batch of technology. The decision to use CBD was based on practicality and was aimed at lessening the delivery cost of the program. Now, as the project is complete, successful trial elements will be extended in other parts of the city.
Aim To Bring 50% Renewable Energy By 2030
Northern Territory in Australia is one of the sunniest places on Earth meaning that implementation of renewable energy projects can reap tremendous environmental as well as economic benefits, as per reports.
Another scenario revealed by the report shows that a shift to clean energy could substantially lead to expansion of electricity, mining and mineral processing industries while decreasing living costs.
To embrace clean energy by 2030, what is known as 10-gigawatt vision, it demands NT and the federal governments to fund common infrastructure projects. One of them is transmission lines linking Darwin and Alice Springs to enable clean energy developments remotely.
According to Eytan Lenko, chairman of the thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions, who commissioned a report while living in Darwin in 2018, the community is divided into two types of people based on their perceptions. Some are concerned about the health of the economy while others are standing against the fracking.
Furthermore, it is found that as clean technology becomes cheaper, the scale of investment is anticipated to fall. As per estimations, renewable energy could produce 8,000 jobs and over $2 billion in annual export revenue.
Although the NT government is targeting 50% renewables for household and businesses by 2030, it does not apply to off-grid mines and developments.As we witness the Darwin growing into a full-fledged smart city, hope is that it soon enters the winning list.