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SIMPaCT Redefining Urban Cooling Strategies in Australia

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In the face of escalating urban heat and water scarcity, a pioneering initiative, Smart Irrigation Management for Parks and Cool Towns (SIMPaCT), emerges as a deeply impactful solution, harnessing water conservation to cool urban environments using innovative technologies.

Funded through the Digital Restart Fund (DRF) as part of the Smart Places Acceleration Programme, SIMPaCT addresses the critical need for quality green public spaces amidst rising urban temperatures due to climate change. Recognising the escalating threat to green areas by droughts and extreme heat, this project assumes paramount importance in alignment with the NSW Government’s heightened focus on ‘energy, renewables, and the natural environment.’

Image credits: NSW Government, Smart Irrigation Management for Parks and Cool Towns

At its core, SIMPaCT stands as Australia’s largest smart green infrastructure project, employing embedded smart technologies, a digital twin, and machine learning to optimise irrigation strategies and maximise cooling effects.

Bicentennial Park, a sprawling 42-hectare parkland in Olympic Park, serves as the testing ground for the SIMPaCT system. Employing 50 low-cost air temperature and humidity sensors, 13 weather stations, and over 200 soil moisture probes, the system gathers real-time data on localised conditions within the park.

Utilising self-improving algorithms, SIMPaCT orchestrates irrigation across 193 sones in response to this data, effectively learning and adapting to environmental conditions to maintain optimal soil moisture levels and mitigate urban heat.

The significance of SIMPaCT lies in its pivotal role in combating the Urban Heat Island Effect, prevalent in Australia, where intense heat waves pose severe risks to communities. By leveraging technology to cool environments, this initiative not only enhances public comfort but also mitigates health risks, preserves urban flora and fauna, and curtails energy consumption and carbon emissions, addressing the root cause of urban heat escalation.

Early findings from SIMPaCT trials in Bicentennial Park showcase remarkable temperature reductions of up to 7 degrees Celsius compared to nearby urban centres, highlighting its potential to transform urban microclimates.

Recognised for its groundbreaking sustainability impact, SIMPaCT has garnered numerous accolades, including the Climate Technology Impact category in the Banksia Foundation NSW Sustainability awards, multiple wins at the IOTAA Awards and InnovationAUS, and recognition as a finalist at the World Smart City Awards 2023. Developed collaboratively with over 12 project partners, this initiative proudly embodies collaborative innovation tailored to address the unique conditions of Western Sydney, setting a benchmark for sustainability-driven technological advancements.

Australia’s resolute commitment to climate resilience, green initiatives, and sustainability stands as a testament to its proactive pursuit of innovative strategies, comprehensive policies, and collaborative endeavours aimed at preserving the environment, mitigating climate risks, and fostering a sustainable future for all.

The NSW Government has set a firm target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, prioritising sustainability and resilience in the face of a changing climate. In the past year, the Digital Restart Fund has been instrumental in driving digital transformation efforts aimed at fostering a more sustainable future for NSW residents.

“Saving Our Species” aims to transform data collection by consolidating plant, animal, and ecological information from across the state. The project targets unifying seven diverse systems, streamlining them into an efficient platform to enhance biodiversity management and comprehension.

The “Tree Canopy Spatial Data Project” is innovating by creating an interface that captures intricate data at the individual tree level. This novel city-wide approach empowers users with granular data, enriching decision-making in urban planning and policymaking, and fostering a more detailed outlook for upcoming initiatives.

OpenGov Asia covered the Australian-led endeavour mirroring the ethos of pioneering exploration: a significant research expedition delving into the Southern Ocean’s depths has revealed a captivating ‘hotspot’ in the vast expanse connecting Tasmania and Antarctica.

This significant research voyage parallels the innovative spirit seen in the Smart Irrigation Management for Parks and Cool Towns (SIMPaCT) project, showcasing Australia’s commitment to leveraging technology and exploration to understand and address complex environmental challenges.


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