Tamworth in energy-cutting smart city trial

Tamworth Council will head up Australia’s first fully integrated IoT smart city trial, using utility-monitoring technology with potentially “endless” benefits to lower the cost of energy.

From projecting electricity savings for citizens to home appliance and utility monitors, the trial conducted in partnership the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute will see council experimenting with state-of-the-art AI to deliver cost-effective power solutions and explore ways of improving local service delivery.

One of the technologies set to be used in the trial is an app which tells users their electricity usage and costs in real time, potentially saving thousands of dollars.

Previous trials have incorporated energy-only systems or are based on older technology, as opposed to integrated platforms, making this trial an Australia-first.

Professor Joe Dong, Director of the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute, is leading the research at UNSW. He says the project will develop “smart” services using a wireless network to improve operations at council.

“Imagine having an app on your computer or phone that gives you your electricity usage and cost information in real time, and also tells you how some slight change of usage pattern of appliances such as the washing machine could most effectively save electricity bills,” Professor Dong said.

Huge potential benefits

But the opportunities don’t end there, he says, with a whole host of potential benefits from these smart city technologies – from health to traffic management.

Joe Dong

“You could have other apps on the smart network for a variety of purposes – such as wearable health monitors that alert your medical practitioners should you need to go and see them or live transport and traffic monitoring to give you alternative routes as soon as a hazard occurs.”

“If we can prove that our solution works, the potential benefits are endless,” Professor Dong said.

General Manager at Tamworth Regional Council Paul Bennett said the pilot will see council partner with University of NSW researchers to investigate opportunities across a range of local industries, potentially bringing widespread benefits.

“We do know the partnership is looking to bring significant investment to our region and is committed to securing a project which benefits council, our community and local industry,” he said.

The partnership, announced earlier this month, will see council open the region to UNSW researchers to learn about some of the key issues facing the region and to develop a solution.

Before implementing any proposals, council will first consider reports looking at the feasibility of any proposed project and decide how they will proceed.

Professor Dong says he hopes the trial will set a benchmark for other councils.

“UNSW is very excited to trial these systems with Tamworth City … and hopes it will provide a template for other smart cities in Australia in the future,” he said.

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