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04 NOVEMBER 2020

Smart Infrastructure Policy allows for smarter decision making

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The NSW State Government recently unveiled its new Smart Infrastructure Policy – a key enabler in achieving the state’s new Smart Places Strategy, and in delivering on Australia’s national Smart Cities Plan


Under this new policy, sensors and other smart technologies will be embedded in all new and upgraded infrastructure from 2020 onwards. This policy will help NSW to plan, design, build and operate more efficient infrastructure, and to create more connected communities.


Here we take a look at what smart infrastructure is; how and where it is currently being applied in Australia; and how our cities and communities will benefit from this approach.


What is smart infrastructure? 


Driven by data, smart infrastructure uses digital insight to inform and enhance the performance of physical infrastructure – like roads, bridges, buildings and utilities. Proving that knowledge really is power, smart infrastructure allows the continuous monitoring and fine-tuning of infrastructure assets. 


Incorporating smart technologies into our infrastructure can: 


  • Improve the efficiency of new and existing infrastructure

  • Help cities to meet growing demand from population growth

  • Improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of cities

  • Use data to inform decision making, and the future planning and development of infrastructure

  • Help to identify and predict infrastructure faults and errors before they happen

  • Foster a culture of innovation around infrastructure.


What impact will smart infrastructure have?


Smart infrastructure is already having a significant impact on Australian cities.


Smarter water utilities


When sensors are embedded in water infrastructure they can perform a variety of tasks – like measuring flow rates to detect leaks and monitor water quality in real time. Equipped with this data, water utility providers can:


  • Reduce water waste

  • Improve the efficiency of delivering water to cities

  • Ensure high water quality can be maintained 

  • And predict trends in water use to identify where efficiencies can be achieved. 


Less congestion


Imagine the difference that a faster and less congested commute could make to your working day?


By incorporating intelligent transport systems (ITS), smart freeways offer a glimpse into the future of road transport, allowing cities to actively and remotely manage the flow of traffic. By opening and closing lanes and adjusting speed limits in response to changing traffic conditions, smart freeways reduce congestion, improve travel times and transport safety, and enhance the overall experience for road users.


More informed city design and planning processes 


The sensors in smart infrastructure generate a vast amount of data to support data-driven decision making. When equipped with rich information, planners can optimise the use of current infrastructure – and inform more efficient planning, design and delivery of new infrastructure.


In 2015 a national inquiry was commissioned to examine the role of smart ICT in the design, planning, quality, efficiency, cost and maintenance of new and existing Australian infrastructure. Read the inquiry report here.


Where can we find smart infrastructure in Australia?


There are countless examples of smart infrastructure hard at work right across Australia – here are just a few.


  • Switching On Darwin is a high profile project designed to improve city safety and sustainability and to enhance quality of life for the community. Completed in May 2019, this project included the installation of environmental sensors, LED smart lighting upgrades; extending the city’s free Wi-Fi network; widening the CCTV camera network; smart parking technology, and the use of sensors to analyse vehicle and pedestrian movements.


  • To promote smart energy decision making, the SunSPoT initiative brings much needed innovation to the domestic solar energy market. This not-for-profit resource helps homeowners to understand the solar energy potential of properties, and to weigh up the benefits and costs of installing solar panels in their location.


  • As part of a Smart Water Meter (SWM) Project in the Mid Western Region in NSW, SWMs were installed free of charge in households connected to town water. This Council now uses data collected from these meters to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of urban water delivery, and to reduce water consumption and water waste. It is expected this program will also deliver considerable cost savings to ratepayers through early detection of leaks.


  • Western Australia recently switched on the state’s very first Smart Freeway, which runs south from the CBD. In a city with constant urban sprawl, this smart freeway allows Perth to make the best use of its existing infrastructure, as well as reducing the frequency and severity of traffic incidents, reducing congestion and travel times, and prompting quicker incident responses.


Explore these and other award nominated examples of Smart Australian infrastructure.

For all your infrastructure equipment hire needs, reach out today – or find your local branch.

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