Since going online in May this year, the Latrobe Valley Information Network (LVIN) in Victoria has become a world-leading environmental monitoring system. Synthesising huge amounts of data in real time, 24-hours a day, the network uses IoT to anticipate disasters and facilitate informed leadership, to help make the region safer.

LVIN is an integrated network of sensors placed at specific locations around the Latrobe Valley, synthesised into an online portal to provide live environmental monitoring for the whole community.

By combining bushfire ignition detection, flood warnings, storm asthma tracking, air quality concentrations and 24-hour climate monitoring, the comprehensive network provides 24-hour, real-time information to protect and monitor industry resources from plantations through to coal mines and power stations in the region. 

Monitoring of plantations is also designed to protect and future-proof local industry, reducing the impact that events like Black Saturday have had on available timber supplies. Further targeted sites allow for a dam safety wall and landfill monitoring.

Strategically placed sensors for optimal coverage

Developed and supported by Australian company Attentis, the patented technology has been implemented as part of the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, with installation and ongoing support from the Latrobe City Council. 

Strategically placed in plantations, rivers, landfills, reservoirs and high-risk locations, the sensors in the LVIN provide situational awareness that can guide planning, decision-making and, if required, disaster response.

Sensor location was selected in consultation with the Latrobe City Council’s Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (MEMPC), incorporating representation from Vic Roads, State Emergency Service, Country Fire Authority, Gippsland Water, Water Catchment Management Authority and local community groups. 

The committee used proven agency risk management approaches to identify 44 at-risk locations for sensor installations. Together, these locations form a complete, integrated, community-accessible network. 

Trucks on a field

A diverse range of applications

It is envisaged that this real-time information network will become the catalyst for inter-agency cooperation, a key recommendation of both the Black Saturday Royal Commission and the Hazelwood Mine Fire enquiry – both significant events that affected the Latrobe Valley community.

Latrobe City’s MEMPC formed a work group to guide and discuss the project direction. During this process, the work group also identified high at-risk locations, produced a Memoranda of Understanding with landowners and a Job Safety Analysis, and identified sub-contractors and project timings.

Through the LVIN, 75,000 residents of the Latrobe Valley currently have free access to monitor live weather, rainfall and air composition, with access to real-time information and notifications from local agencies and emergency services. 

Visitors will be able to view live on-site conditions prior to visiting Latrobe City and the various community attractions. 

Farmers throughout the region can access active rainfall, soil moisture and a range of analytical tools and automation options to reduce water consumption and drive productivity.

Allergy sufferers can view live movements of air concentration levels to move indoors to avoid possible impacts from airborne pollens and contaminants, including smoke from prescribed burns and this year’s fires in the Yinnar area.

Additional benefits of the network include the development of safety and tourist applications, and the ability to monitor infrastructure, such as electricity transmission lines.

A network to benefit the whole community

The Federal Government and Attentis invested $1.7 million to construct the network with support from several agencies through the MEMP committee.

“Access to real-time information on this scale will assist to build community resilience and confidence, and lead to an informed understanding during events that impact lives throughout the region,” a CFA Operations Officer said.

“Since network construction, considerable agency interest has been demonstrated, with several agencies accessing the network on a daily basis.

“This is a world-first Australian technology that will provide significant benefits to the region, expanding this network will bring greater benefits to all communities and agencies.

“This is the largest environmental monitoring network ever constructed, introducing an Australian technology that will provide significant benefits to the region. Expanding this network will bring greater benefits to all communities and agencies increases the level and breadth of real-time information available.  

“This is a game-changer technology and could be the catalyst for information sharing we have all been seeking.”

Latrobe City’s Coordinator Emergency Management, Lance King, said that LVIN was “providing real community resilience building, giving residents of Latrobe City the platform and tools to make real-time informed decisions when dealing with impending emergency impacts”.

Since going live, the network is being used daily by a complete range of emergency services as well as local agencies and organisations. LVIN was also awarded Best Government Project and Best Overall Project at the 2019 Australian IoT Awards, and Latrobe City Council won the Smart City of the Year – Regional Award at the 2019 Smart Cities Awards. 

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