Which Smart City Initiatives Made NZ Win The Asia Pacific Awards 2017?

Smart City Initiatives in New Zealand

Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (SCAPA), 2017 declared New Zealand as the winner across four smart city categories: Public Works, Smart Grid, Connected Health, and Tourism, Arts, Libraries, Culture, Open Spaces. Out of 14 categories, New Zealand was the only country to bag the highest number of wins (four) for smart city initiatives.

SCAPA, which is being conducted from past three years, recognises the most outstanding smart city projects across the Asia/Pacific region excluding Japan. The winners are evaluated based on the IDC Asia/Pacific team’s rigorous six-phase benchmarking analysis. It includes identification and classification of key smart city initiatives by IDC Analysts which is determined through three different assessment platforms. 50% comes from online voting to understand public opinion, 25% from assessment by International Advisory Council and 25% from APeJ.

Coming back to New Zealand, the country has proved to be at the vanguard of smart city initiatives in all three years of these awards. It has proved that size of a country doesn’t matter, it all depends on how well do we understand our citizen’s needs and make use of the IT infrastructure in fulfilling the goal. So, let’s find out which Smart City Initiatives Made NZ Win The Asia Pacific Awards 2017? It is all the more interesting!

1. KITE – Smart Sensing Platform

In 2011, the mayor of Wellington introduced the city’s goal ‘Wellington Towards 2040’. The aim is to make the city smart, safe, eco-friendly and more resilient. To achieve the goal, city collaborated with the technology giant NEC to leverage its IT skills. As a matter of fact, a number of smart city solutions are being provided by NEC like the Multimodal Transport, Pedestrian Counting traffic flow solution for counting mode of transports and more. Yet, the one that was nominated in SCAPA was the development of KITE platform for the city.

In the public works category, NEC created the KITE platform in collaboration with Wellington and Christchurch City Councils. KITE is a standardised sensing platform that collects sensor data to benefit the economic and environmental council projects. It collects a wide range of information on water and air quality, pedestrian mobility, parking, street lighting, solvent detection, waste management and graffiti detection.

KITE is a highly flexible sensing platform that enables different types of sensors to be integrated into a sensor hub. Hence, it provides the ultimate solution with integration and flexibility.

Jenny Rains, Community Services Manager of Wellington City Council explains that they are able to collect data, measure temperature, vibrations and humidity and whatever the current project demands for. Moreover, it also mitigates ad hoc civil engineering and communications backhaul related costs for future sensing requirements.

2. Smart Grid Strategy

Smart Grid Technology for Smart CitiesUnison Network rolled out a 5-year Asset Management Plan, beginning in 2011. The introduction of smart grid initiative was a part of this plan. The main goal of the initiative was to widen and enhance their service to its customers by reducing network expenditure and developing revenue growth opportunities while making use of the newest technology available.

Therefore, Unison Networks developed a long-term Smart Grid strategy for a sustainable and cost-effective solution. The Smart Grid includes incorporation of sensors to improve performance and asset utilisation in the entire Unison Network. The Smart Grid platform will be in line with EMS technologies, smart metering and load control which includes systems and communications. The strategy created by Unison involves the aggressive implementation of smart grid applications. This strategy views the sustainable long-term use of the assets with the shift of low-risk asset refurbishment expenditure to a later stage (postponement). For example, if a substation transformer requires a low-risk refurbishment, the company may postpone the process by adopting a fast switching technology installation. As a result, the risk profile enhances allowing the load to be lifted several times thus preventing further degradation of the transformer. This ultimately makes the whole system more efficient and cost saving.

The main benefits of the Smart Grid network are:

  • Maintenance expenditure gets optimised
  • The network performance increases
  • Power quality improves
  • Customised service is provided to customers
  • Being a sustainable and safe network it benefits health and environment

3. The Qrious Voyager Portal

Qrious developed a Voyager platform an “Interactive Tourism Intuitive Web Portal”, in May 2016. The platform provides big data and analytics solutions to the tourism industry in New Zealand attracting the local tourism operators that account for 75% of the market. The voyager enables the operators gan insights into the tourism activities happening inside the country through timely data analysis. This entire system will help RTOs to manage future tourism growth effectively. The significance of the portal has not just been witnessed in the country but has also been recognised globally.

Going further ahead, Qrious has upgraded the system with the integration of a newly created software application known as ‘LoQal Destinations’. This application will provide the tourism industry with an opportunity to carry out strategic planning to support the future initiatives. The recently built software LoQal Destinations, that has been incorporated in the Voyager portal provides weekly updates with daily visitor information.

4. Smart Health – Free Online Health Service

Waikato District Health Board launched a free online health application in New Zealand powered by HealthTap. The new initiative allows patients to download the app and connect with healthcare professionals anywhere in the country. The app gives a flexible communication facility with options like video calling, voice and text link. The mobile application not just connects a patient with a doctor but also provides health-related information approved by doctors.

People can have an online consultation with doctors without the need to leave their homes and travel long distances. The app is very helpful for those who live in rural or remote areas where access to hospitals is difficult.

The SmartHealth app is available on all devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. The list of benefits offered by the SmartHealth app are:

  • Free online consultation with health professionals from 6 pm – 11 pm on weekdays and  to 8 pm on weekends and public holidays
  • Facility to ask questions to doctors 24/7
  • Flexibility to have online appointments with hospital professionals while staying at home
  • Online helpful reminders and checklists
  • Quality information related to a variety of health topics, conditions, research and treatment – all approved by health professionals only

Now let us see what a patient has to say about her experience with SmartHealth app.

Pamela, a patient who underwent a kidney transplantation in 2016 had to go for follow up appointments throughout her recovery period. That meant she had to travel all the way from Rotorua to Hamilton which was a three-hour trip and also waits at the renal clinic in between at the Waikato Hospital.

Those tiresome trips were only until she signed up for SmartHealth app. After signing up she started having online appointments with her doctor Dr Rabindranath directly from the comfort of home. She was effectively able to fix appointments, avoid the travel but have the same care as she had during physical appointments.

“It’s a brilliant service,” exclaims Pamela. “Instead of having to travel to the hospital I can have an appointment from home in 10-15 minutes. I’m still talking one-to-one with Dr Rabindranath, I can ask questions, get answers and we can make a plan for my care.”