If you see a strange new device in your neighbourhood that looks like a stack of upturned dinner plates, fear not – it’s not a UFO and it isn’t spying on you. It’s keeping tabs on ambient temperature and delivering data to help council make smarter decisions into the future.
Sunshine Coast Council Outstanding Organisation Portfolio Councillor Ted Hungerford said more than 50 environmental sensors were recently installed across the Sunshine Coast for a Data Driven Decision Making project which is part of council’s Smart City Framework.
“These sensors have been installed on council poles mainly in parks and on roadsides from the coast to the hinterland and they’ll be keeping close tabs on environmental conditions in these locations for a number of years,” Cr Hungerford said.
“The detailed temperature information that these sensors collect will enable council to further research the effects of increasing heat in our urban and peri-urban areas, enabling us to improve future design decisions and develop better mitigation strategies for urban heat.”
Cr Hungerford said the 2016 CSIRO report Future Climate of the Sunshine Coast highlighted the importance of capturing information that enabled council to make informed decisions on future projects.
“Modelling shows that over time the Sunshine Coast will be exposed to increases in average temperatures and in the number of days per year in excess of 35 degrees Celsius,” Cr Hungerford said.
“In 2017 research also identified significant variance in land surface temperatures across different suburbs of the Sunshine Coast.
“Given a large number of people are expected to choose to live in our region over the next 20 years, along with the forecast effects of a changing climate, it is extremely important for council to have data that can highlight the areas with good neighbourhood building design and also help to identify areas where work can be done to increase tree canopy and other measures to mitigate the effects of increasing heat.”
Environmental sensors for air, water and artificial light are already in place around our region to monitor important elements like temperatures at turtle nesting sites to ensure healthy hatchlings, in children’s playgrounds to monitor temperatures of play equipment and in our galleries to protect artworks.
Thermal imaging cameras are also used by council to collect data on temperature comparisons between asphalt, concrete, grass, canopy or shaded locations.
“This information will be used to improve planning and design of public areas, such as the use of materials and colours which reduce heat, and increasing canopy cover to provide cooler and more comfortable open spaces for our community,” Cr Hungerford said.