City Rebuilds With Smart Sensors

After a devastating earthquake, Christchurch, NZ, is using smart sensor technology to collect real-time data to support faster decision making. Learn how citizens are interacting with the technology to help rebuild the city

What Happened?
Christchurch, New Zealand, is rebuilding its central business district with smart sensor technology following a devastating earthquake in 2011. The data-collecting sensors will enable city agencies to respond to changes in a variety of activities to increase safety, efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Goal
As Christchurch rebuilds its city center from the ground up, officials are working with developers to implement smart city technologies to ensure the city will operate efficiently and manage resources responsibly. The local council considers the unfortunate earthquake as an opportunity to construct smarter, data-driven infrastructure as the foundation of the community.

To rebuild the city with data-collecting sensors and analytics technology, Christchurch will invest an estimated $32 billion. The money will be used to fund a variety of smart city technology projects – such as a water quality initiative – that incorporates real-time data into the everyday lives of residents.

Within the next five years, officials hope to be running the city’s expensive assets based on sensor-collected data. The city also aims to engage all members of the community with the technology and data collecting process.

With residents engaged in the collection of city data, officials can gather information in real time at less expense. The continual contribution of smart city data to the cloud will ensure information is up-to-date and accurate, Next City reported.

The Sensors
The water quality project simplified the process of testing the water sources for levels of various minerals such as potassium or nitrate. Individual residents are able to:

  • Test water quality
  • Measure pollutants with a testing card
  • Geotag the results
  • Upload the data to the cloud

The public as well as the city will have access to this data to make better, faster decisions on water quality improvements.

Similarly, the Christchurch health board installed hardware in asthma inhalers to measure when and how each patient used the medication dispenser. The data collected by the hardware was collected and compared to air-quality sensors placed throughout the city to see if certain levels were triggering asthma attacks in residents.

If the city can gauge more accurately when patients may start to feel symptoms, asthmatics would know when to take precaution, which could lead to less hospital visits and improve quality of life.

Data Driven Cities
Several major cities worldwide are leveraging smart city technologies to gather data and translate the information into actionable insight to boost productivity, efficiency and economic sustainability.

Songdo, South, Korea, totes innovative garbage tactics that enables the city to handle waste without any trucks. Household waste is sucked from individual kitchens through an underground network of tunnels to different waste processing centers. The garbage is then automatically sorted, deodorized and treated – some of which is used to produce renewable energy, the BBC reported.

Vienna, Austria, plans to be a zero carbon city by 2020, and already generates 32 percent of its heat from incinerating garbage. The city launched its EcoBuy Vienna initiative to reduce emissions and increase ecological sustainability of procurement activities involving Vienna organizations. EcoBuy Vienna currently cuts 30,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, which saves about $22 million each year.

Building Smart
EfficientGov has been analyzing the smart city movement, showcasing how smart growth supports economic development.

About the author

EfficientGov Staff

EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.