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Smart Monitoring and Management, Yellagonga Wetlands


City of Joondalup

Yellagonga Regional Park, Western Australia

Project stage

In progress


Start date: 17 November 2017
End date: 31 December 2020

Project value

Australian Government funding:


  • City of Wanneroo
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Technology Vendor (TBA)

Focus area

  • Visitor experience
  • Innovation and economic development
  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality, dust, noise, waterways)

Project type

  • Visitor experience
  • Environmental monitoring

Technology type

  • Internet of Things
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Environmental sensors
  • Smart poles
  • 3D modeling
  • IT systems (interoperability)
  • Online portal

Project summary

Application of smart technology to improve efficiencies in monitoring ecological health in relation to environmental water provision criteria, macroinvertebrates and wetland vegetation health and public use of the 13 kilometre long Yellagonga Regional Park covering 1,400 hectares, and including four wetlands – Lake Joondalup, Lake Goollelal, Beenyup Swamp and Wallubuenup Swamp; and deliver community focussed services that make the precinct more liveable, productive, sustainable and safe.

The challenge

Reliance on manual monitoring of nutrients, metals and metalloids, and general health of the wetlands does not allow for prompt decision-making to protect the wetlands/community.


The primary strategic objective of this project is to move from the current manual monitoring of nutrients, metals and metalloids to monitoring by sensors and to also add monitoring of pollutants (not currently measured) and midge by sensors, in order that decisions can be made using near real-time data.


  • improve the liveability and sustainability of the region through the application of smart technology solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges related to Yellagonga Wetlands.
  • increase openly available public and private data sets to support citizen engagement, unlock innovation, and create new business opportunities.
  • increase innovation and capability in the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo, and its strategic partners, through collaboration and smart city innovation ecosystem development.
  • contribute to development of smart city standards impacting the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo and the roll-out and use of smart technology.

Lessons learned

In progress.

Some of the lessons learnt so far include:

  • Maintaining line of sight of the drone can be challenging due to the dense vegetation around some areas of the lake
  • There’s only a short window during the day suitable for capturing drone photography in order to avoid shadow from fringing vegetation and reflection from midday sun
  • The City’s existing drones only have a battery life of 22 minutes, meaning only small areas can be photographed at any one time and regular battery changes are required
  • Flying at a height of 20m provides a very high level of resolution for photogrammetry, but takes significantly longer and require a large number of battery changes
  • Photography captured at 90 metres height does not produce photographs of high enough resolution
  • Drone batteries can be charged in vehicle, but batteries must be cool to charge
  • To efficiently capture aerial photography for the whole of the Yelllagonga Wetland area on a regular basis will require an upgrade to the drone technology.


A proof of concept is currently being developed, utilising drones to capture aerial photography of Lake Joondalup. For the purposes of the proof of concept, a small area of Lake Joondalup was selected, as the Lake covers an area of approximately 700ha which would be a considerable undertaking using the Cities existing drones.  The area selected has a stormwater drain outlet into the lake, which was thought might allow changes in water quality to be visible based rainfall, and the area is also prone to midge in the warmer months and also attracts a lot of bird life. 

The drone software was used to map out a flight path over the whole of Lake Joondalup, based a number of different heights the drone might potentially be flown at.

The drone software was used to estimate flight times at various heights, as indicated in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1: Comparison of Height and Flight time Estimates

Drone Photography over whole of Lake Joondalup
Total Area: 680-780ha depending on flight path
Drone: DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drones
Flight HeightFlight Hours to CaptureBattery Changes RequiredNumber Photographs


142hrs 37 min

343 batteries

110,200 images (0.5cm/pixel resolution)


36hrs 4 min

87 batteries

2,164 images (1.1cm/pixel resolution)



50 batteries

6,000 (1.8cm/pixel resolution)



20 batteries

18,000 (3cm/pixel resolution)

A number of factors were taken into consideration:

  • Total drone flight time
  • Drone flight duration (variable based on height and number of photographs taken)
  • Number of battery changes required
  • Time taken to recharge batteries in between flights
  • Optimal time of day for data capture to avoid shadow over the lake and midday glare reflecting off the lake

Drone photography was initially captured at a height of 90 metres, however the photographs were are not considered to be of high enough resolution for them to be considered useful for photogrammetry purposes.

Subsequently the drones were used to capture aerial photography at heights of 18 metres and 38 metres which provided a much higher level of resolution and allowed significant detail to be captured.

The drones have reflown the same section of the Lake at heights of 18 and 38 metres to provide a comparison for what changes are visible over time.

A 3D model has been created for the aerial photography flown at 18 metres.

Contact Details

Name: Tania Pollitt
Phone: 08 9400 4000
Email: tania.pollitt@joondalup.wa.gov.au