September 23, 2023

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Smart Cities in New Zealand Enhanced by IoT

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Smart city building continues in New Zealand in the form of an Innovation Precinct developed by a telecommunications company in partnership with Auckland Transport in the Wynyard Quarter in downtown Auckland. The company has not only established 5G networks across the waterside neighbourhood but also put in hundreds of connected sensors which makes this the smartest location in Aotearoa.

The Wynyard Quarter is outfitted with smart streetlights, which optimise energy consumption and maintenance overheads while improving public safety with better lighting. Equipped with sensors and communicating over the 5G networks, the streetlights tell service workers if a bulb fails. They also automatically switch on and off according to ambient illumination.

The secret in the streetlights is the Internet of Things or IoT. Powered by mobile connectivity, IoT is a means of making just about any object ‘intelligent’, capable of generating and transmitting useful information which, when acted upon, delivers a wide range of benefits.

The area is also fitted out with smart benches which have solar-powered charge point for e-bikes or mobile devices. Connected over the telco’s 5G network, it functions as an air quality monitoring station, and keeps an eye on foot traffic density and generates ‘use statistics’. This information feeds through city managers who can optimise the placement of public assets.

A trash bin is also sitting aside these smart benches for efficient waste disposal. The bin is an IoT-connected smart bin, which notifies authorities when full. The device looks like any other trash can, but the information constantly generated also helps optimise routes and timetables taken by rubbish trucks, reducing traffic congestion, emissions, and operational costs. Now that city planners can see how and where bins are used, they have real data which helps place bins where people need them most.

The developers also incorporated Smart parking, due to Auckland’s notorious traffic and parking challenges. This gives city planners and commuters accurate insights into what parks are in use.

The telco said that with the wealth of data extended citywide, it is easy to imagine the scale of efficiencies that can be gained. Couple the data with our smartphones, laptops, devices like connected doorbells, fridges, security cameras, emerging self-driving smart cars and voice-controlled homes and just about any device there is and the necessity for high-capacity next-generation 5G networks becomes clear.

Smart connected devices that generate data shines a bright light on how we use public and personal amenities, providing previously unobtainable insights which help inform best practices for councils and governments. This results in the power to optimise and shape urban policy. This means the potential for new solutions to age-old urban problems including health and safety, environmental impact, social connectedness, and even civic participation, added the developers.

The telco also noted that if we look overseas, Singapore is lauded as a city that is getting it right the first time when it comes to being smart. In Singapore, technology has a key role to play in mobility initiatives. The city’s leaders have proactively built and executed smart and connected traffic solutions in unison with stringent policies helping make it the world’s most liveable city.

Right now, Aotearoa smart cities are in their infancy. The telco’s Innovation Precinct is trying to expose the possibilities afforded by technology. The long-term vision for IoT powered cities is at the same time simple and revolutionary. With the power to shape better cities everywhere in New Zealand, policymakers can make an already growing country even better for everyone.

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