Making our cities smarter
Connected technology is being increasingly used in New Zealand to make our cities more efficient and liveable. Sensors are gathering information on anything from air and water quality, to waste management, parking and street lighting.
The concept of smart cities sounds quite futuristic but there’s already lots happening in our towns and cities right now that has an effect on our daily lives.
Jesse Teat from Tussock Innovation based in Dunedin, is one Kiwi spearheading the development of connected technology that is helping make our cities smarter.
By using specially developed sensors, Jesse and his team are helping companies to collect data and information that help them understand more about their assets and the environment they operate in.
One of their ground-breaking products, Waterwatch, is being trialed by councils in Dunedin and Tauranga to help manage flooding problems in the city. The technology means they can monitor storm drains to find out what times of the day the drains are heavily loaded and where the water is coming from. Councils can receive fault and high water level alerts and warnings to evacuate flood prone areas.
This technology isn’t only in demand in New Zealand. Waterwatch has gained the attention of cities around the world that are increasingly concerned about flooding thanks to global warming and rising sea levels.
“Just in the past month alone, we’ve had enquiries from a number of cities including the US and Australia looking at how they can use this technology," says Jesse.
Tussock Innovation has also developed a pest trap sensor that connects into the Beyond Orokoniu Halo Project web trap portal to help towards New Zealand’s goal of being predator free by 2050. With the ongoing control of pests, birds once extinct from the ranges are able to return to the forest.
“The pest trap sensors and cloud based trap portal mean people don’t have to walk the tracks every day to check the traps. We can also collect information on what kinds of pests are being trapped and analyse it to target species,” says Jesse.
Jesse says they’re now seeing more industries, particularly companies with remote facilities and assets being able to monitor things where previously it wasn’t financially viable to do so.
“The concept of connected technology or the Internet of Things has been around for a while, but is often misunderstood. The focus has been a lot on what people can do in their house, or the small ways it adds value to people’s daily experiences, like your fridge letting you know you’re running low on milk. But for connected technology to really take off we need to look at how it can provide efficiencies to more people every day, like receiving an alert that your bus is two minutes away and it’s time to get to the bus stop, or better traffic management so your drive to work is quicker.”
“We’re proud that all of the products we develop have a positive impact on people’s surroundings. We’re continuously learning more about the uses of connected technology so we can do even more with it.”
Demand for Tussock Innovations’ products means they are able to go into mass production this year. They’re also in the process of developing a household consumer product in partnership with an Auckland company set to launch this year.
Jesse Teat (left) and team members showcasing Waterwatch
Tidal flood sensor
Placing a sensor in a storm drain
Flooding in South Dunedin