The Smart Cities Victoria initiative falls under the wider Smart Cities Plan of the Australian Government, which aims to draw on the strong potential of technology-based innovation to improve the livability, prosperity and sustainability aspects of its cities.
We go into the details of our engagement with this client below, with a focus on both the MVP and subsequent full solution delivered as part of Beta Launch’s Build-Grow solution.
The standard method of managing Victoria’s precincts’ services across areas including buildings, waste, and utilities involved manually scheduling activities as well as reactive maintenance and repair efforts.
While these services enabled improved visitor experience, building lifespan and the like, it was challenging for City Councils to accurately monitor the facilities and the services involved in their upkeep in an efficient manner, while also exploring opportunities for optimization.
As part of the wider Smart Cities Victoria program, the cities were keen to utilize sensors and IoT networks to address these issues, but this presented a parallel set of challenges. The cost to get technical consultants and then test the sensor and IoT use cases was immense. There were also significant costs attached to testing the devices and the commercial deployment of the IoT-based network.
Specialised technical expertise would also be needed to manage aspects such as IoT network infrastructure deployment, hardware technology selection, and data capturing plus security.
It was in this problem-filled environment that Beta Launch first entered a dialogue with the Smart Cities Victoria program and associated councils.
At the outset, prior to deciding on the different sensor applications, Beta Launch focused on discovering the actual problems the councils experienced and looked to solve. This was facilitated through discovery conversations held with the councils of the City of Port Phillip, Brimbank City Council and City of Kingston.
The direct insight provided by individuals working in various capacities across these organizations revealed the efficiency issues mentioned in the ‘problem’ section above together with the challenges in designing and implementing an IoT-based system to solve them.
The user and stakeholder interviews allowed us to map the problem space fully and then begin testing the various sensor use cases to facilitate monitoring of park visitation numbers, air quality, weather, garbage bin levels, and grass height.
Through the first-hand research Beta Launch conducted and the information gathered, we first went about building an MVP solution. It comprised hundreds of pre-tested use cases and already set up devices, neatly tied together through a dashboard for the councils and their business end users to manage the different sensors and related monitoring activities.
Our solution offered the Smart Cities Victoria program and associated councils IoT connectivity, data capturing and device management ability minus the usually significant costs or heavy technical expertise.
Following the success of the MVP developed, Beta Launch engaged their full-stack development team in designing, building and implementing the full solution, shaped by continuous feedback received from the three Councils and their business end users.
Practical applications included the use of bin sensors connected to the IoT network to perform waste collection and management activities as needed, rather than adhering to fixed schedules as done previously. The system enabled councils and business end users to monitor garbage bin levels to make visits on-demand when close to full and not when mostly empty as before.
The IoT network, sensors and captured data allowed the Smart Cities Victoria program and associated councils plus their business end users to enjoy efficiencies including lower labour costs and truck usage while optimizing the waste management process, in one practical example.
Similar efficiencies and service optimization benefits were also gained across other aspects such as lawn maintenance and park visitation. This real-time data monitoring ability allowed the Councils to boost efficiency of services while drawing on data analytics to also shape the delivery of complementary services.
In the screens below, we offer a closer look at several key components of both the MVP and full solution developed.
The manage dashboards option displayed below allows councils and business end users to pick which areas of monitoring/sensors they would like to follow most closely and pin them accordingly. How a specific device can be set up in the system, how devices can be managed, and the device data captured are also depicted.
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