A SMART digital revolution launched in Wollongong

DIGITAL REVOLUTION: SMART Infrastructure Facility director Professor Pascal Perez holds one of the sensors used in the Internet of Things network. Wollongong wants to become a digital living hub. Picture: Robert Peet

DIGITAL REVOLUTION: SMART Infrastructure Facility director Professor Pascal Perez holds one of the sensors used in the Internet of Things network. Wollongong wants to become a digital living hub. Picture: Robert Peet

Wollongong wants to be a bit like Amsterdam – but not for the reasons that may come to mind.

A successful Internet of Things (IoT) network project in the Dutch party city has ‘’inspired’’ the folks at the SMART Infrastructure Facility to embark on a mission to become a technologically powered hub able to improve the lives of its community.

‘’We were definitely inspired by Amsterdam but Wollongong is leading the way to becoming a digital living hub and leader in the digital world,’’ SMART Infrastructure Facility director Professor Pascal Perez said.

On Thursday, SMART with the backing of the University of Wollongong launched a plan which will soon see Wollongong be home to its own free-to-air (IoT) network, designed to address key social and environmental challenges within the Illawarra.

IoT is basically the ability to link small digital devices [sensors] in a cost effective way, enabling the collection of data that can be used to develop real-time applications.

Professor Perez said the network will ultimately allow individuals, community groups and businesses the ability to connect like never before.

He said IoT could be used to monitor water flow in primary lagoon, river or stormwater systems, test air quality or develop improved transport options.

And becoming a ‘’digital living hub’’ in the months and years ahead will result in the ‘’truly smart city’’ of Wollongong use broad-ranging, research-oriented projects to improve the ‘liveability’ of the city and the lifestyle of the people within it.

This is one of the main reasons why Wollongong City Council has jumped on board to support the plan.

‘’We’ve got a real need and this [IoT]  provides us with a really great opportunity to address a current and real need for dealing with flood information suitably,’’ council general manager David Farmer said.

‘’We also want to be a contributor to making this a better place to live.’’

It may be fanciful to suggest Wollongong could become the Silicon Valley of Australia, but Mr Farmer said the city could move in that direction by taking its opportunities.

‘’Whether we are going to be the Silicon Valley of Australia is just postulation but we certainly need to be at the forefront of innovation and there is opportunities for us to innovate in a range of areas and I’m really pleased to be involved in this initiative,’’ he said.

SMART Infrastructure Facility chief operating officer Tania Brown expects companies to be able to use the IoT network by August.

‘’The IoT network is designed for community use. The possibilities are endless.”

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