​Australian government to leverage British standard for smart-city planning

The Australian government has today launched Hypercat Australia, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that will facilitate the use of sensors in a smart-city environment.

The federal government has launched Hypercat Australia, the local arm of a United Kingdom-developed alliance and standard that enables free communication from any connected Internet of Things (IoT) sensor or device being used to monitor an environment.

Hypercat Australia is being established as an independent, not-for-profit organisation that will be administered by the Knowledge Economy Institute led by Doctor Mike Briers AO, Australia's first Industry Professor of IoT at the University of Technology Sydney.

Speaking at the launch in Sydney on Tuesday, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said that the Australian government is currently exploring relationships with different jurisdictions to build smart cities that improve the lives of citizens.

"Hypercat Australia is one such partnership which will allow a platform to facilitate cutting-edge technology solutions to be applied to urban problems," Taylor said.

"I congratulate Hypercat on recognising the benefits for industry in sharing data which can be measured not only in collaborative formal partnerships, but in strong economic rewards."

According to Hypercat, IoT is increasingly being used by smart cities to help inform decision making and improve city services including air quality, energy usage, traffic flows, and asset utilisation.

Established in the UK three years ago with government support to enable Britain to take a lead on smart-city investments, the organisation said it hopes that Australia will be a major step for the adoption of Hypercat as a global standard.

"We believe the formula for establishing a world-leading smart, IoT-enabled Australian economy that drives growth and prosperity involves industry and government working together in focused sectors including smart cities," Piers Hogarth-Scott, national IoT leader of KPMG Australia, said on Tuesday.

"The launch of Hypercat in Australia aims to unlock the benefits of smart cities by creating an interoperable IoT ecosystem that gives confidence to cities and local government.

"More importantly, if we can play a role in fostering a global standard we can unlock the power of the Internet of Things for everybody."

Tuesday's launch was the first public-private roundtable session held by Taylor as part of the government's recently announced Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, which he said will see Hypercat Australia as the focus of the project.

At a cost of AU$50 million, the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program aims to support councils across Australia to fast-track open data and innovative technology solutions to fix local problems in a bid to make cities and suburbs more liveable, sustainable, and productive.

Initially announced as an election promise, the government said previously it wanted to see local councils be involved in planning, infrastructure, or service initiatives that demonstrate open data, partnerships, and the use of technology, and make measurable improvements to people's quality of life.

Also on Tuesday, Australia's first live IoT network was launched, with the network based on the low-power, long-range (LoRaWAN) open standard.

The network operates on the 915MHz industrial and scientific-allocated spectrum band, which is currently used for consumer devices operating under Low Interference Potential Devices (LIPD) class licences.

Those within a 3km to 5km radius of the Barangaroo Gateway in Sydney will be able to connect IoT devices for free, for the purposes of prototyping, testing, and developing solutions, with the IoT gateway able to support 1,000 devices at a time.

By the end of 2016 some 6.4 billion "things" -- devices from toasters and kettles to cars and hospital equipment -- will be connected to the internet, according to analyst firm Gartner.

That figure represents a 30 percent rise from 2015 and Gartner expects this figure will grow further to reach 20.8 billion by 2020. By this year, as many as 5.5 million new things will become connected every day and as a result, the growing IoT will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22 percent from 2015, the analyst predicted.

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