The Institute for Sustainable Futures has partnered with Lake Macquarie City Council and the City of Sydney top publish a new guide to help Australian Councils get to grips with the emerging space of low-cost environmental sensing. The report introduces some of the challenges faced in managing the urban environment and the potential of new technology to support the liveability of our communities.
Over the coming decades, more people will live in cities and the challenges for the urban environment will increase. This is a global challenge and is the focus of the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11). The challenges for heat, noise and air pollution can vary within a suburb and across a city. This requires monitoring that is close to the source of the pollution to understand how people are affected. In the past, monitoring has aimed to collect average conditions for an urban climate zone. Monitoring at this scale aims to avoid being too close a source of pollution because the concentrations will be too high and not representative of other areas in the climate zone.
The cost of devices has been an important factor in monitoring a particular location. New technology has lowered the cost for devices and for communicating the results and enables monitoring at a much finer scale. It also facilitates community participation in monitoring – both in terms of identifying areas that are considered a problem, directly deploying devices and engagement in possible management responses.
However, the approach is not yet standardised and is an emerging research focus for international bodies such as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). This report uses examples from two recent initiatives by the Technology for Urban Liveability Program (TULIP) with NSW local governments in Lake Macquarie and the City of Sydney to demonstrate the use of monitoring to investigate urban climate challenges. Examples from around the world are used to show emerging practice and how others are seeking to understand and manage their urban environments. Basic concepts for monitoring the urban climate are introduced to illustrate the difference between collecting data for particular locations and collecting data for representative climate zones.
You can download the full guide here.