As the fire season begins across Australia, one project that forms part of the Digital Living Lab has the potential to save both lives and property.

Dr Hugh Forehead, an associate researcher at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, knows about fires firsthand as a member of the Gerringong Rural Fire Service.

He knows that when a fire truck is responding to a fire call, seconds count.

‘When you arrive at a fire, you don’t want to park the truck too far away from a hydrant,’ he says.

‘Otherwise you are looking for the blue cats-eyes markers on the road, but these are often just not there, due to road resurfacing or damage.’

Even if they are there, the hydrant may be buried or concealed by vegetation.

This is where the Smart Hydrants app comes in.

Using hydrant data from Sydney Water, Dr Forehead has located these on Google Maps, in a cloud-based application using a URL that he give to members of the brigade.

‘It’s just for Gerringong at the moment, but other brigades are already showing interest,’ Dr Forehead says.

The app allows the fire truck to be parked in the best position for the incident, saving precious seconds.

If a second hydrant is required, this can be located quickly using the app.

The installation of the LoRaWAN network by the SMART Infrastructure Facility as part of the Digital Living Lab opens up the possibility of installing sensors on hydrants – and therefore a way of remotely, and cheaply, monitoring maintenance.

‘The next step will be to offer this app to other brigades in the Illawarra,’ Dr Forehead says.

‘But in the future, I would love to think that this could be something that would be automatically issued to brigades across the state, or even across the nation.’