Applying smart city technologies and engaging citizens to build more liveable urban communities


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Planning and construction

  • Understanding the impact of construction

  • Real-time operational use of data

  • Baseline monitoring to inform future liveability

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Liveable Neighbourhoods

Distributed environmental sensing for climate resilience and community engagement


TULIP is a smart city project delivery and research program led  by the University of Technology Sydney (the Faculty of Engineering and IT and the Institute for Sustainable Futures). We are working at the front line of the emerging smart city  space in Australia, in collaboration with a broad coalition of partners from local, state and federal  government, industry, research and civil society.


Our mission is to harness the Internet of Things to build better, more liveable cities, where people are placed at the heart of solutions. Technologies must be designed, integrated and delivered around the needs of communities.


We recognise that urban liveability outcomes can be leveraged through the widespread collection and sharing of environmental data. To do this, we are deploying public access networks and sensors in cities around NSW, supported by an innovative new approach to data architecture. We are filling the environmental data “void” by collecting real-time, hyper-local data on things like urban heat, air quality, noise and stormwater. 


TULIP is a blueprint for local governments and communities to design, build and deliver smart city infrastructure on their own terms. Our approach to data architecture is collaborative, modular, open, flexible, network-agnostic and capable of aggregating any type of data from across a city in one place - or pushing it somewhere else if you'd prefer. It's the antidote to proprietary systems and vendor lock-in that we think is absolutely critical for local government that are serious about their smart city potential.


Creating liveable and thriving urban places requires high-quality urban design, planning and policy. Cities must mitigate urban heat, improve air quality, and minimise noise pollution. These outcomes can be achieved through improved land use and transport planning, vegetation of the urban environment and use of water in the landscape, with world-leading sustainable urban design, planning and policy informed by strong community input.


TULIP supports such action with relevant, timely and robust data gathering, analysis and interpretation, open data infrastructure, and strong processes of civic engagement and education.

Improved urban design, planning and policy

TULIP is for Communities

Citizens are keenly interested in their city liveability. A core focus for TULIP is to provide opportunities and incentives for citizens to participate in building a more liveable city through active engagement with the project.

Data collection

Citizens install their own sensors in TULIP’s open access networks, supported by new low-cost options, as well as open source solutions in the maker community.

Data sharing

Citizens provide their environmental data for sharing in their community and across the city they participate in building a deep and localised data set for analysis.

Local innovation

Civil society, start-ups and citizens can do their own research and create their own applications and services through open access to shared data.

A smarter approach to data

The TULIP platform is a modular data architecture blueprint that is designed to offer maximum control and flexibility to councils and communities as they build their smart city capacities. It is based on a working demonstration involving multiple councils and industry collaborators and is a constantly evolving approach. We are exploring interoperability, labelling, storage and sharing standards. As collaborations and data use cases build, knowledge grows and an ecosystem emerges. The roles in the blueprint below can be filled by a variety of providers.


TULIP data architecture blueprint

Current TULIP sensors include:
  • Temperature

  • Humidity

  • PM2.5

  • Carbon Monoxide

  • Ozone

  • Nitrogen Dioxide

  • Noise

  • Pedestrian counting

  • Smart asset monitoring

TULIP is also exploring:

  • Soil moisture

  • Rain

  • Wind

  • Storm water


As well as Council deployed devices, sensors may be deployed by private businesses, citizens, community groups, NGOs and schools. We are currently developing the capacity for universal metadata onboarding and data sharing preferences for anyone connecting to TULIP.


Not all sensor devices are created equally. How do we know how good the data is from device A as opposed to device B. We are comparing a large number of commercially available sensors in a control chamber at UTS, followed by field trials to understand how they fair in the outdoors. We are building up an understanding of how different quality sensors, in different price brackets, are 'fit for purpose'. It's not about using the best sensors available. It's about knowing how to use the sensors you have!


Low-cost distributed sensor networks are producing a new type of data that requires a new type of data science. How do you make sense of data from a thousand points on a map? What if some of those points relate to high quality sensors and some relate to lower quality sensors and you want to understand how it all fits together? What if you're measuring lots of different variables at once, all spatially overlaid? We are working with partners to start to address these challenges.

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Building Our Future Australian Governmen
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City of Sydney logo
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Lake Macquarie City Council
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The Urban Institute
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ARCS Group
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ESRI Australia
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The Things Network
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Core Collaborators


Andrew Tovey

Program Manager,

University of Technology Sydney

0439 533430


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