Adelaide partners with Cisco to launch IoT innovation hub

The South Australian government, Adelaide City Council, and Cisco are launching an Internet of Things innovation hub to encourage startups to develop applications through the AdelaideFree Wi-Fi network.

Adelaide is Australia's first capital city to offer free Wi-Fi outdoors in the city centre. This network set-up has formed the foundation for a newly signed tri-partisan memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the South Australian government, Adelaide City Council, and networking giant Cisco.

The MoU will see the creation of an Internet of Things (IoT) innovation hub, a physical space that is expected to attract entrepreneurs and startups to collaborate, develop, and test applications that will eventually be installed and used for transport, healthcare, education, utilities, and energy through the AdelaideFree Wi-Fi network.

SA Minister of Science and Information Economy Gail Gago said the agreement marks the beginning of where digital entrepreneurs and tech-savvy startups come together to develop a range of initiatives that will enable devices to speak to one another.

"We understand the internet is used regularly in terms of people being able to communicate with other people; the IoT will enable devices to speak to other devices to create a whole new way of living and doing things smarter, faster, and cleaner. It opens a whole wealth of opportunities and possibilities," she said.

Under the agreement, Cisco will provide network infrastructure and expertise for testing and producing electronic products and applications that will be created at the hub.

The Innovation Hub is part of the Cisco Smart+Connected Communities concept, a global initiative aimed to transform physical communities to connected communities.

Anil Menon, Cisco president of Smart+Connected Communities and deputy chief globalisation officer, said the MoU will help demonstrate the IoT-enabled technology in a practical setting through delivering new urban services that address three key sustainability criteria: Social, environmental, and economical.

"We don't want to be the big city, but the best little city, and to me, that's a new way to look at things. What that means is to be little, but have all the capacity of a large city, and let the citizens and businesses get what it needs," he said.

Menon said there are four key services that he believes could be potentially delivered through this initiative and could change the way the city will be governed.

This includes traffic management; parking management, such as applications that can notify people where the best spots to park are and enable people to make parking reservations; enhancing the function of street lights, so it can monitor pollution levels and track traffic patterns; and waste management, so that bins can notify councils of when they're full, so they can be emptied.

While there are no specific expectations of what type of entrepreneurs and startups the initiative will attract, Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood added that the hub will bring "huge efficiencies", highlighting that other potential applications could see connections between public transport, finding more efficient ways to move people in out of the city, and using technology to give tourists directions through 3D mapping.

"A more sexy example is augmented reality," he said, with hopes that Adelaide will soon be able to claim the "mantle of being a Silicon city" — something that no Australian city has done yet.