Research from VoF will be applied to the streets of Melbourne!

Monitoring the Green Infrastructure of Cities by integrating an automated IoT robotic system on top of public transport and cloud computing.

Funding body: Melbourne Networked Society Institute.

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Climate Change have resulted already in heat wave events becoming more frequent and severe in Australian cities and have put significant pressure into developing efficient systems to maintain and increase the urban green infrastructure to avoid tree dieback and eventually complete loss of urban trees. This effect can increase the “urban heat island effect” and its associated detrimental consequences for the society’s wellbeing and biodiversity of cities. Currently, there are no systematic tools to monitor the green infrastructure of cities to respond efficiently and in timely manner to demands imposed by the changing environment on urban trees.

This project proposes the integration of a monitoring tool and decision-making system based on infrared/visible robotic cameras mounted on top of buses and public service vehicles from cities, such as trams (Figs. 1 & 2 named as IR-Busmonitor). The main aim of the system is to obtain geo-referenced upward-looking imagery using internet of things technology (IoT) for data capture and transmission. Cloud computing and developed algorithms will be then used to obtain physiological information from tree canopies to create high temporal and spatial resolution information from the urban green infrastructure. The system will allow to: increase in the long term the green infrastructure of cities, offset carbon emissions by public services, carbon sequestration, recreational places for the public, ameliorate detrimental heat wave effects on population and biodiversity and decrease heating/cooling costs for the public through understanding the risk and resilience of green infrastructure in response to heat waves. The major novelty of the system proposed is that it will effectively transform public transport and service vehicles from cities into networked monitoring robots at affordable costs compared to alternatives, such as satellite imagery acquisition and analysis and the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The latter been highly regulated within urban environments through the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and perceived by the public as invasive of privacy and security. This project also addresses specific activities, such as water and urban futures with emphasis in the application to novel adaptation strategies to climatic anomalies, such as heat wave events to be available to urban environments, the use of pervasive information through integrative technology and entrepreneurship by developing a novel product and service that can be easily replicated in major cities within Australia and around the world.

Expected Project Outcomes

One of the biggest challenges in the future for urban communities is to decrease detrimental effects of the Urban Heat Island effect and extreme events such as heat waves. Inadequate or inefficient management of the green infrastructure leads to tree dieback and complete loss of trees, associated to high costs for councils and community to replace them to the pre-mortality growth level. This funding will help understanding the short and long term effects of events mentioned before on the green infrastructure of the cities and provide an integrated system for city councils to acquire data, automatically analyse it and have processed information readily accessible for decision making and management. Specifically, maintaining and increasing the green infrastructure from cities offers a wide range of benefits to the communities and the environment, such as:

Decreasing:

  • Death rates in heat-waves for people over 65 years old
  • Respiratory problems on people below 16 years old
  • Tree dieback
  • Stress of aquatic ecosystems by degreasing temperature of storm water
  • Heating and cooling costs for inhabitants in general
  • Run-off and therefore erosion
  • Individual on-site inspection of treesIncreasing:Due to the versatility and network based concept of the system proposed, the number of people that can be benefited will be according to the general population of cities in which the system is put into practice with a national impact considering major cities in Australia.

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