SMART’S Digital Living Lab embracing the IoT revolution

Mr Tim Davies1, Ms Tania  Brown

1Smart Infrastructure Facility, University Of Wollongong,  Wollongong, Australia

The SMART Infrastructure Facility, with the backing of the University of Wollongong, has embarked on a mission to become a technologically powered hub with the potential to improve the lives of every person in the community.

The establishment of SMART’s Digital Living Lab will see the region become home to a free-to-air Internet of Things (IoT) network, that enables us to fully embrace the IoT revolution. Designed to address key social and environmental challenges within the region, it will ultimately allow individuals, community groups and businesses the ability to connect like never before.
Over the next months and years, we believe this will lead to us truly becoming a smart city which will use broad-ranging, research-oriented projects to improve the ‘liveability’ of the city and the lifestyle of the people within it.

In collaboration with Wollongong City Council and Sydney Water, UOW is deploying a free-to-air Internet of Things (IoT) network across the region to support high impact community-orientated projects.

The Internet of Things (IoT) enables a cost effective mechanism to collect data from thousands of small digital devices (nodes) that inform real time applications. Current examples include smart home thermostats, smart street lighting or smart street parking finders.

IoT comes in many ways and forms. The LoRaWAN technology offers an open protocol and free-to-air connection to application developers and end-users. UOW is partnering with Meshed and The Things Network to deploy this network in the Illawarra region, allowing for cost effective community-orientated solutions.

The Digital Living Lab will connect individuals, community groups and businesses, helping them develop technology-based, research-oriented projects to improve the liveability of the city and the lifestyle of the people within it.

One of the first projects will use sensors to monitor the Wollongong city’s storm water network. The city’s topography bounded by an escarpment on one side and the ocean on the other, makes it especially vulnerable to catastrophic floods. Wollongong is a network of small streams that come off the escarpment very quickly, there is a real need to better understand how floods work and how streams rise and fall in various rainfall events. This is a great opportunity to collect a lot of data, and therefore further refine flood models, and allow people to be more confident about the flood impacts on their property.

Other projects will be developed to map the availability of wheelchair access to pivotal venues; monitor water flow in primary lagoons, benefit aged care homes; test air quality or develop improved transport options.

The Internet of Things network is designed for community use and this initiative is all about people working together to create a region that reflect the needs and desires of the people at its heart. The possibilities are endless.

The development of the Wollongong region as a Digital Living Lab would place it on the cutting-edge of a global revolution, allowing it to become Australia’s most dynamic and forward-thinking hub.


Tim Davies works for the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong. He specialises in data visualisation and design.