As a volunteer in the Rural Fire Service in Gerringong, Dr Forehead knows that seconds can be crucial in an emergency.
So he was surprised to find that the method of finding the nearest hydrant to a fire was one member of the crew sticking their head out of the window and looking.
Although hydrants are meant to be marked by a reflective blue cats-eye on the road, too often these are missing or damaged.
So he developed a simple app, combining Google Maps and overlaid data from Sydney Water to show the location of all the hydrants around Gerringong.
Last week, the idea received the IoT Award for Service Innovation at the Service Science Society of Australia awards.
The society exists to build the scientific underpinning of services, to create the necessary innovations for a productive and well-grounded service economy in Australia.
Dr Forehead says he is surprised and humbled by the award, and would like to see the app adapted for all Rural Fire Service districts in NSW.
‘As far as I am aware, this simple but effective idea is the first of its type anywhere in the world,’ he said.
The Digital Living Lab was established by the SMART Infrastructure Facility earlier this year to enable applications that require low power, low intensity connectivity to operate at low or no cost.