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Smart sensors ease beach holiday stress

The RMIT University is working in collaboration with the Mornington Peninsula Shire, in Victoria, Australia and other partners in bringing smart city technology to the traditional beach holiday.

Funded by the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, this initiative will offer a glimpse of how sensor data will change how future cities operate.

According to a recent report, researchers are installing sensors throughout the summer hotspot of Rye to monitor traffic, parking, crowd numbers and even toilet usage to better manage holiday crowds.

The traffic sensors would feed into smart signs displaying real-time availability of parking, while also guiding traffic to the least congested route.

Sensors are being placed on BBQs and in bins to let council workers know when they need attention, and air quality sensors at toilet blocks.

Even the historic Rye Pier will have air and water quality sensors.

More than 650 parking spaces, 20 bins, 5 toilet blocks, 5 BBQ facilities as well as 1 km of the main shopping street and 9 Ha of foreshore area are being monitored in the initial trial.

The sensors are currently being installed and trialled over this summer and the next, with the project to continue rolling out over subsequent years.

Smart street signs and facility monitoring are only the beginning, according to the lead researcher, an Associate Professor from the University.

Eventually, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used for predictive modelling of all these data for towns all along the coast, trained on historic data but also informed by weather and events information.

Local government will have dashboards with all this real-time information as well as forecasts for infrastructure development.

Visitors, meanwhile, can use an app to plan their ideal trip to the beach with the best route, parking and beach facilities.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, Councillor David Gill, said that the project was driven by high tourism demand on the Peninsula, particularly during the summer and holiday season.

Rye Township has been inundated with visitors, increasing pressures on parking, traffic, and amenities.

This project will allow the Shire to demonstrate the use of smart technologies to improve liveability of busy towns, for example finding a park.

Following the tests, the system will be replicated and scaled up for other beachside towns along the Mornington Peninsula with high demand pressures.

In the decade ahead, there will be an explosion in services and facilities that are responsive to population movements and changing conditions.

Data from the increasing number of sensors, mobile phone location data and so on will be used to make the cities more responsive.

Truly smart cities need to be able to aid both the citizens as well as local governments in making intelligence-informed decisions or even automating and delegating some of these planning decisions.

For planning purposes, operational managers will be able anticipate seasonal, regular and irregular mobility and usage patterns by residents and visitors.

The residents and visitors, in turn, can truly enjoy living in and visiting the Shire without the stresses or traffic, finding a car park, knowing which beach is least crowded or which BBQs will be available along their route.

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