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City of Ballarat Smart Cities and Suburbs
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City of Ballarat Smart Cities and Suburbs

CeRDI and Federation University have partnered with the City of Ballarat (https://www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/) to provide physical and digital infrastructure for open community data sharing and innovation, internet of things technology and data driven decision making. This involves the installation of a new open communications network and the development of an open data sharing platform - Ballarat Open Data that was launched in November 2020.
 

Ballarat Open Data website

Ballarat Open Data website

 

Background

Internet of things (IoT) technologies provide new opportunities for smarter devices, improved efficiency and sustainability and data driven decision making. This project installed the infrastructure required for this technology for the Ballarat community with an open LoRaWAN (Long Range, low power Wide-Area Network) service.

Utilising this network the City of Ballarat and Federation University undertook a series of pilot studies to explore the use of smart sensors and devices for evidence-based decision making.  At Federation University this included the installation of new weather sensors to understand localised weather patterns, the purchase of smart bin sensors for waste data tracking efficient bin collection and anonymous infra-red people counters to monitor public transport and building use.

Complimentary to these pilot studies and a major part of the project was the development of a new community-based data sharing platform: Ballarat Open Data . This platform brings together data sets from a range of local organisations and community groups for sharing, collaboration, data visualisation and the development of new technologies and business opportunities.

Outcomes

The key outcomes of the project are:

  • An open IoT network at Lake Wendouree, Federation University and Ballarat’s creative district.
  • The creation and launch of Ballarat Open Data - for effective data management publishing, access, sharing and community engagement.
  • Smart places and smart environment pilots for data driven decision making by Federation University and City of Ballarat.

Innovation

New innovations of this project include:

  • The development of a new model of data sharing that is cross-organisational and available equally to local organisations, industry, government and community groups.
  • The discovery and publishing on Ballarat Open Data of new datasets about the Ballarat region enabling future innovation and collaboration.
  • The showcasing of new ways of communication integrating data sets from a variety of sources to provide interactive visualised data insights. This included a Ballarat Weather Portal and a Ballarat Sustainability Dashboard.
  • The digital enablement of a large area of Ballarat including Lake Wendouree the Ballarat CBD and Federation University Mt Helen campus with the new publically available LoRaWAN network service.
  • The smart environments and places pilots by Federation University and City of Ballarat testing the capability of smart sensors to improve sustainability and better plan services and infrastructure upgrades.

Technical Features

The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT refers to the collection of physical devices or smart infrastructure that are internet enabled and can communicate data in real-time. This takes the internet beyond the virtual or digital world, into the devices, buildings and infrastructure around us. A fitness tracker watch that syncs to a website tracking exercise is an example of an early IoT device many will be familiar with. IoT however takes that concept further by allowing the linking of smart devices and information as a network. An example would be linking smart weather stations and soil moisture probes with smart irrigation systems that can more efficiently use water only when it's required. The benefits of this technology include new possibilities for energy efficiency and sustainability,  live-feed data collection for better decision making and improved service delivery.
 

LoRaWAN and the Things Network 

This project provides a major upgrade of digital infrastructure for enabling IoT technology in the City of Ballarat. Previous to this, the use of IoT technology was limited to areas with WIFI such as inside buildings or the use mobile internet enabled smart devices with their own SIM card and associated data costs. The roll out of a new LoRaWAN (long range, low power wide-area network) in Ballarat is a significant improvement for this technology and in line with the current global best practice in wireless connectivity for IoT. 

The new LoRaWAN network is focused around the Ballarat cultural and business centres, Mt Helen Federation University campus and Lake Wendouree. It is a free, open wireless network service enabling any organisation, community group or individual to connect LoRaWAN enabled devices. Data from devices are communicated via the Things Network which is an open source, global decentralised network for IoT devices and allows users to access their data feeds and integration with digital applications. Because of the open source nature of this technology, there is the maximum potential for digital innovation including at grass-roots levels. The Ballarat Hackerspace for example have provided workshops for participants to build their own IoT devices.

For further information on this technology see the Things Network .
 

Federation University Smart Buildings Pilot Study:

  • Installation of infra-red break-beam counters at bus station at Mt Helen understand public transport use and to advocate for better bus services. Installation of similar devices at entrances to P building at Mt Helen Campus to monitor building use for data driven class scheduling for best space utilisation and energy efficiency.
  • Installation of bin fullness sensors at Mt Helen Campus to measure waste for sustainability metrics and improve bin collection effectiveness
  • Installation of weather sensors (temperature, humidity and precipitation) at Mt Helen and SMB campus to provide ultra-localised weather information available on Ballarat Open Data and visualised alongside City of Ballarat and Bureau of Meteorology weather stations on the Ballarat Weather Portal

Ballarat Open Data:

  • Built using open-source technology (CKAN)
  • Harvests locally relevant datasets from other authoritative repositories including data.gov.au and data.ballarat.vic.gov.au
  • Provides a platform for many new datasets and local organisations not previously sharing data through other platforms.

Approach

CeRDI and the City of Ballarat are using their connections with local organisations and community groups to discover data that could contribute to Ballarat Open Data.

Future Directions

Ballarat Open Data was launched in November 2020. Along with the new LoRaWAN network, this provides local digital infrastructure needed for ongoing data sharing and digital innovation for the Ballarat community. CeRDI and the City of Ballarat will continue to work with local organisations who wish to share their data via the Ballarat Open Data platform. 

With the ongoing availability of the open LoraWAN network, Federation University and the City of Ballarat will also continue to explore ways that IoT can assist with data driven decision making, sustainability and better service delivery.

 

 

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