MELBOURNE - OCTOBER 2015: City streets and buildings on a beautiful sunny day. Melbourne attracts 15 million people annually.

In this day and age, smart city initiatives are everywhere; but despite this technology becoming more and more commonplace, a recent questionnaire from the University of South Australia found that over half of South Australian residents don’t understand what a ‘smart city’ is, with similar results found in the UK. However, real-world results are beginning to emerge from smart city initiatives – such as Melbourne’s iconic tram network trialling innovative new technology – bringing the technology to the public eye.

Until recently, city leaders thought of smart technologies primarily as tools for becoming more efficient behind the scenes, with a lot of the smart city activity happening in the background.

As a result, a resident of a smart city, or a city implementing smart technologies, likely hasn’t seen the layers of technology and digital infrastructure contributing to their day.

Smart technologies, like IIoT devices, are enabling predictive maintenance of city infrastructure and the collection of real-time data from infrastructure systems including transportation, energy, and water management. This process optimises city-wide operations and creates a higher quality of life for citizens.

Case study: managing Melbourne’s trams with smart tech

In Australia, one example of smart city technology benefiting citizens is Melbourne’s Yarra Trams, operated by Keolis Downer. Yarra Trams has recently partnered with Madison Technologies to leverage IIoT solutions to create efficiencies in the way they manage the rail network, including tram safety and speeds.

Across the Yarra Trams network, junction pits fill with water and debris, which requires a labour-intensive process to conduct routine maintenance. Yarra Trams required a solution that can detect water and solids that have built-up in junction pits, creating more efficient maintenance programs.

Secondly, during extreme weather events that bring high temperatures, the 40km of ballasted tracks managed by Yarra Trams are susceptible to buckling and need careful monitoring. Before a visual inspection can be completed, tram speed restrictions must be implemented to keep commuters safe, which can lead to operational delays.

Solutions in action

For the initial pilot program, Madison Technologies provided two solutions for Yarra Trams, leveraging IIoT technologies from Australian manufacturer, Kallipr.

The first, a junction pit monitoring solution, provides up-to-date data on the levels of water in the junction pit. If a pit is full of water and not draining, alerts are sent, and maintenance teams can react quickly to clear it.

The second solution carefully tracks temperatures across sections of the track that are susceptible to buckling. Sensors monitoring the ambient air and rail temperature provide frequent data points back to the Yarra Trams Operations Centre, allowing for informed decision making when applying network speed limits, and reducing the reliance on visual inspection.

Both solutions use low-cost, low-power devices to enable remote monitoring and measurement, leveraging Telstra’s M2M NBIoT / CatM1 network to send small packets of low-cost data, making the overall solution incredibly cost effective.

The pilot program gives the team a chance to learn more about the technology and its possible uses, while lowering the risks connected with introducing a new technology. Yarra Trams can apply learnings and easily scale the technology across the network once perfected.

As cities become smarter, they become more liveable and responsive, with Australia only seeing a preview of what technology could eventually do in the urban environment. Smart city technologies have the potential to create a more efficient, sustainable, and equitable future for all city residents.

This Sponsored Editorial, is brought to you by Madison Technologies. For more information, visit or phone 1800 72 79 79.

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