Smart Active Transport - Urban Heat Maps for Bendigo

Funded

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

City of Greater Bendigo, Victoria

Project stage

In progress

Timeframe

Start date: 14 December 2017
End date: 31 December 2019

Project value

Australian Government funding:
$118,235
Total:
$248,235

Partners

  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • Spatial Vision
  • Latrobe University
  • Shanghai Qijing Planning Architecture and Design Ltd

Focus area

  • City and community planning
  • Education and public health
  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality, dust, noise, waterways)

Project type

  • Community engagement
  • Visitor experience
  • Environmental monitoring
  • People movement

Technology type

  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Smartphone applications

Project link

Project summary

Australian cities are widely known for their liveability, yet extreme heat can be a killer. This project’s aim is to develop a platform that integrates maps of satellite-derived land surface temperatures to inform users of the location of urban hot spots. Our goal is for pedestrians and cyclists, for example, to understand how their route will differentially expose them to extreme temperatures. The platform will interface with major mapping and navigation systems, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, allowing users to take advantage of hotspot information without changing digital behaviour patterns. The platform will enable local governments to communicate the benefits of greening and to enable active travelers to move in comfort and safety.

The challenge

Urban heat can vary greatly at small scales: the difference between standing under or next to a tree canopy. This project enables the sharing of fine-grained heat data to enable users to map a low temperature route and to understand this data through a website and additional materials. Current applications, such as Google Maps, provide navigation instructions that account only for distance. The proposed platform will give all navigation applications the ability to account for heat and shade. Broad consultation will drive the design of the platform which will use freely available satellite information to predict the location of likely hotspots. The work leverages existing IP but proposes a novel algorithm. The platform will deliver information that, in effect, allows users to account for the ‘niceness’ of a walk. The outcome will be a better informed and more active public who will be better equipped for extreme temperatures and more supportive of urban greening efforts generally.

Solution

Our first challenge was to question the need for information about heat. We consulted a number of user groups in the City of Greater Bendigo and outlying towns. Our intention was to avoid over specifying the final project. In other words, we didn't want to design and implement an app if people are unlikely to actually use an app to find out information about a walk. This part of the work revealed that a lower key digital solution would be appropriate.

At the same time, we realised that to achieve our target of producing a digital layer that was in real time and fine grained, much more data would need to be used.

In collaboration with the team, we developed an index of thermal comfort. We used Google Street view images to understand how we could map shade. We also collaborated with the City of Greater Bendigo's team who are in charge of implementing the Clever Weather project in collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology. This will bring a dense IoT derived weather station data into the project.

The final solution will be available on a browser through a smartphone and integrated through the City of Greater Bendigo's Pozi Public GIS platform. It will be launched in early December.

Benefits

The project's technology and concept are completely scalable. The concept is already being adopted in a pilot for the City of Melbourne's innovation district as an extension.

Lessons learned

Apps are not necessarily the solution. We don't know whether smartphones are going to be as popular in two years time as they are now. Australian cities should be world leaders in providing their citizens with information about heat.

Outcomes

  • Algorithms for calculating thermal comfort index.
  • A rich understanding of heat from a citizens perspective.
  • A cloud based platform for recording people's impressions of heat at intersections and a way of recording why they take a particular route
  • A report on the use of QR codes and similar technology in rolling out and making data available to people.

Contact details

Name: A/Prof Marco Amati
Phone: 03 9925 5887
Email: marco.amati@rmit.edu.au