Technology pioneered by SMART researchers is about to provide crucial data to guide the growth of one of Australia’s fastest growing cities.

Thousands of people already walk and commute through Liverpool CBD every day, but the expanding University of Wollongong campus is expected to bring 7,000 extra students to the city. This, coupled with the city’s growth due to housing and office space is anticipated to deliver 30,000 extra pedestrian movements per day.

Add this to students about to be enrolled in a new Western Sydney University campus, an increase of the city centre population and the planning needs become obvious and urgent.

Liverpool City Council is teaming up with the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong and IT integration company, Meshed, who currently collaborate with SMART as part of their Digital Living Lab, to measure pedestrian and vehicle movements around the CBD based on IoT sensors.

The year long project started in March and was made possible by a Smart Cities and Suburbs grant for $120,000 from the Federal Government and matched dollar-for-dollar by Liverpool City Council to enable a $240,000 project.

Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said the city’s rapid expansion made the project necessary.

“We will be using the data to plan future pedestrian and vehicle movements throughout our city to ease congestion, provide better transport options and improve health and safety,” she said.

SMART researchers Dr Nicolas Verstaevel and Dr Johan Barthelemy will develop a solution using machine learning to count people and cars at key location using IoT technologies.

SMART’s Director, Senior Professor Pascal Perez, says this ground-breaking technology is being developed and being trialled on this project.

“The project will provide information on pedestrian flows walking through the CBD.” he said.

“It will help us understand how pedestrian and vehicle traffic flows will evolve and how the city of Liverpool will need to adapt infrastructure to adapt to these significant changes.”

It’s the first time that SMART has worked with Liverpool, but Senior Professor Perez believes with the development of the new airport at Badgerys Creek that there will be potential for an ongoing partnership.

Meshed will be installing LoRaWAN gateways throughout Liverpool CBD, and SMART researchers will be installing air quality sensors throughout the area.

Senior Professor Perez hopes that the project will illustrate the potential for diverse projects using the LoRaWAN network that is already occurring with the network installed in Wollongong.

“The fact that we will already have sensors and gateways in Liverpool opens up the opportunity for more projects beyond the Smart Pedestrian Project,” he said.