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Northern Melbourne Smart Cities Network, enabling data to drive change

northern melbourne smart cities network enabling data to drive change project team photo


City of Whittlesea

Across 5 Councils: City of Whittlesea, Moreland City Council, Banyule City Council, Mitchell Shire Council and Nillumbik Shire Council, Victoria, Victoria

Project stage



Start date: 01 November 2018
End date: 30 June 2020

Project value

Australian Government funding:


  • Banyule City Council
  • Moreland City Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
  • La Trobe University
  • Minnovation Australia

Focus area

  • City and community planning
  • Visitor experience
  • Innovation and economic development
  • Facility and services management (buildings, energy, waste, utilities)
  • Public safety (crime and disaster prevention and management)
  • Education and public health
  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality, dust, noise, waterways)

Project type

  • Smart traffic management
  • Disaster management
  • Visitor experience
  • Public safety
  • Smart waste
  • Smart amenity management
  • Environmental monitoring
  • People movement

Technology type

  • Internet of Things
  • Network infrastructure
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Hardware
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Environmental sensors
  • Online portal

Open data link

Project link

Project summary

The Northern Melbourne Smart Cities Network, enabling data to drive change project has provided an IoT-based Smart Cities network to drive the first steps towards smart cities transformation for City of Whittlesea, Moreland City Council, Banyule City Council, Mitchell Shire Council and Nillumbik Shire Council.

The project has developed and implemented a LoRaWAN network that enables integration of 5 different types of sensors to collect data on a wide variety of aspects of everyday life in the cities and allows Councils to monitor and improve efficiency of services provided and support potential delivery of new services.

The challenge

The Northern Melbourne Councils being Moreland, Banyule, Mitchell, Nillumbik and Whittlesea generally manage the cities/shires through a combination of scheduled activities and reactive activities:

  • Scheduled activities include waste collection, mowing, asset renewal e.g. footpaths, roads etc., cleaning activities e.g. public toilets, BBQ's etc.
  • Reactive activities include responding to potholes, litter, dumped cars, infringements, blocked drains, fallen trees, replacing damaged equipment etc.


This project seeks to change the old paradigm through the use of smart cities network, sensors and data.

A simple example is a networked bin sensor. A bin sensor will communicate to the network, allowing councils to collect waste on an ‘on demand’ basis instead of the current schedule basis. This will create multiple efficiencies as the council would only visit the bin when it is close to full, as compared to the current scheduled approach where most bins are close to empty when collected. This will reduce labour costs and truck movements which create congestion and emissions. Conversely, councils can empty bins days before it is scheduled if a sensor confirms that it is full and thereby avoid rubbish piling up or being blown around parks reducing public amenity and getting into waterways.

This project seeks to introduce five sensor types to the five councils to kick start the smart cities journey together as a region.

The five sensor types deployed (People Counting, Air Quality and Environmental Factors Monitoring, Water Level Monitoring, Waste Management Collection and Asset Tracking) as part of this initial project are at the beginning, and will prove the concept to the participating councils and communities.

The network developed as part of this project is the key driver towards the future smart cities transformation. The network will allow the five councils to explore different sensors inexpensively and play and share data to determine how access to data can best inform council process and service improvement. The shared network promotes collaboration and sharing resources, risks and opportunities.


Improve the functioning of Whittlesea, Moreland, Banyule, Mitchell and Nillumbik through the application of IoT-based smart cities network and sensors to environmental, economic, social challenges.

Increase innovation and capability in 5 Councils through collaboration and disruptive new technology.

The real time data produced will enable Councils to proactively and efficiently manage cities and shires, driving solutions that:

  • increase community engagement by providing real-time information on council performance and a platform for community feedback and comment;

  • involve the community in service design and delivery;

  • empower customers to make decisions through greater access to information;
  • improve access to council services; and
  • support real-time availability of council information and data.

LoRaWAN network implemented will not only enable Councils to expand the smart cities sensor network for future use but also allow community members to integrate their own network of sensors and enable the community to create sensors and generate new data elements to solve everyday problems. This project is scalable.

Lessons learned

  • Allow sufficient time in drafting, negotiating, finalising and signing the contributor organisation agreement for all Councils and universities prior to the project start
  • Ensure effective communications across Councils to increase awareness and interests in the project
  • Early engagement of Council business units prior to determining the sensor applications and understand the real problems they wish to solve
  • Establish user group in each Council at the beginning of the project and encourage sharing across Councils
  • Streamline the sensor use cases and choose the right technology for the right case
  • Team collaboration and communications are as important as technology itself in the project.
  • When bringing in a new technology, sufficient knowledge transfer and training should be planned earlier and organised to upskill Council staff and consider further training requirements in understanding the IoT data.
  • Quality Assurance (QA) requirements and process should be agreed by all parties prior to the implementation and followed through the whole implementation stage and QA should be conducted straight after the hardware installation with no delays.
  • Piloting implementation is vital for large IoT network deployments and implementation processes should be refined accordingly and agreed/understood by the team prior to implementation.
  • Ensure knowledge transfer from the research/technical partners to the industrial contractors
  • The tender brief should be formulated based on the end objective and not be too descriptive. 
  • The use case and need for data needs will drive the IoT networks and data. This project was originated from the IT departments, opening the eyes of many Council staff, however, the growth will depend on the end user demand for data and specific use cases and sharing use cases will help to drive demand.
  • When the dependability on the data increases, for instance the sensor data carrying sensitive information, greater control over the quality, security and reliability of the IoT network will be required.


  • The project has provided 5 participating Councils a LoRaWAN IoT-based Smart Cities network which consists of 48 gateways and 294 sensors in 5 types and is the largest open IoT network in Victoria.
  • The project has engaged the business end users from all Councils throughout the project and the data visualisation dashboards developed according to the business requirements will allow Councils to monitor and improve efficiency of services with data analytics and support potential delivery of new services. It has also enabled access to air quality and water level dashboards from the community.
  • The IoT network is integrated with the open access network The Things Network which allows the local residents and businesses to integrate their own sensors to the network and enables the community to drive their own data-based solutions to everyday problems. The project has provided How-to information in the webinar videos published on YouTube.