UNSW Sydney has partnered with Providence Asset Group (PAG) and Tamworth City Council for Australia’s first fully integrated smart city trial.

To be based on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, the trial will include applications across transport, energy, health, telecommunications and other community services.

The trial is led by Professor Joe Dong, director of the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute, who said that the Tamworth Smart City project aimed to build the IT systems that would monitor and control data flowing through ‘smart’ services, using the wireless network.

The use of existing IoT infrastructure would ensure seamless integration of IoT devices, from home appliances and utility monitors to council services such as waste management, lighting and parking, and asset security as well as health services like remote patient monitoring.

“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,” Dong says.

The smart network could also support other apps such as wearable health monitors that alert your medical practitioners or apps for live transport and traffic monitoring to give you alternative routes as soon as a hazard occurs, Dong said.

Providence Asset Group CEO Henry Sun says the partnership with UNSW underscored the potential for university and industry collaboration to bring new technologies and products to market.

UNSW is also developing Australia’s first large-scale hybrid energy storage system using lithium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

To be installed at a $200 million solar farm being built by Providence Asset Group and Risen Energy Group in south-east Queensland, the system will store surplus electricity generated at the farm and then discharge it when required. The system would use artificial intelligence to manage and smooth out the intermittency of renewable energy, balance out supply and demand, and allow the storage and use of excess renewable energy where and when needed.

“The Australian Renewable Energy Agency could contribute $1.7 billion annually to the Australian economy by 2030, driven domestically and by demand for sustainable green hydrogen in Japan, South Korea, China and Europe,” UNSW Scientia Professor and renowned chemical engineer Rose Amal said.

Similar to how Australia leads the world in solar technology, the use of hydrogen technology to store renewable energy at this solar farm is an opportunity for the country in the global hydrogen market, she added.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, deputy vice-chancellor, Research at UNSW, says, “UNSW Sydney is already a world leader in renewable energy research. But the challenge to efficiently, stably and affordably generate, store and distribute sustainable electric power for all Australians in future cannot be achieved without significant investment and the contributions of our partner organisations.”