When you think of humble Hamilton, you don’t think of cutting-edge smart city tech that is propelling the city to the future. You think of the gently ambling, mighty Waikato river, world-class gardens and agriculture. Yet, Hamilton is poised to take up the mantle of NZ’s most technologically progressive city, thanks to several smart technology initiatives.
Hamilton’s small size means it is a unique testing ground in New Zealand to roll out new smart city technologies – yet it is big enough to thoroughly and meaningfully test them. Through innovation and insight, Hamilton is positioning itself at the front of the pack, revealing to the rest of NZ how a city can use smart tech for the good of the public.
So, what are the key smart city developments for Hamilton? And what can other NZ cities take away from this great city?
Embracing real-time passenger information
Hamilton was the first city that embraced Radiola’s Real Time Passenger Information system (RTPI). Through using cloud-based GPS tracking, our RTPI relays accurate, up-to-the-minute bus service information to passengers along the route via smartphones and bus-stop displays. The next step for Hamilton was the rollout of eStops that provided this information, as well as information about events or road disruptions along the bus route.
For Hamilton, RTPI was the first step to making a public transport network that was able to empower passengers. The information allows for critical insight into the health and efficiency of the transport infrastructure, allowing for a deeper understanding as to where improvements could be made.
Switching to LEDs
While Kiwis across the country are switching to LED lighting within the home to save on power costs and increase the uptime of their lights, councils are dragging their feet when it comes to streetlights. It is clear why – LED lights require an upfront investment cost, even though the savings are apparent.
However, the advantage for Hamilton goes beyond just cost. LED lights are more reliable, and less wasteful than their sodium counterparts, lasting nearly 3 times as long. What’s more, there is flexibility in light choice, with warm white lights to be used where appropriate, for a softer, more diffused night-time look for residents and nocturnal animals alike.
Smart and free parking
Parking is the bane of every city driver. Driver’s aggression, frustration and resignation come to a head when we look for parking spots in the city. Yet Hamilton has the answer – through using parking sensors in the CBD, the network is able to monitor and relay parking availability. Drivers can use a phone app to find these parks, thanks to sensors in the roads. Along with the two hours of free parking in the CBD, Hamilton has established clear initiatives for individuals to work and visit the CBD.
Open Data Portal
As part of their initiatives to develop Hamilton into an NZ-leading smart city, Hamilton City is in the process of developing an open data portal. We know, moving forward, that innovation and improvements towards any system require open and transparent access to data. Data can supercharge our approach to systems innovation – and Hamilton City understands that.
Through developing an open data portal, datasets can be made available to the public. This is crucial – it allows the public to intimately understand how their city is connected, and help propose changes that can be made. The second step is the identification of possible datasets, deepening the information available for the public to use and access.
Crafting an internal culture of innovation
Perhaps the most difficult development to achieve for any organisation – and particularly hard for public bureaucratic agencies – is encouraging a culture of innovation internally. We know public agencies and organisations move slowly, and by nature, they have to do so. Careful consideration of proposals is needed, as well as a prolonged period of feedback from the wider public. Yet, this careful process can sometimes translate into a lethargic culture when it comes to internal approaches to development. Through encouraging a culture of innovation, Hamilton City can keep progressing.
What can other cities do?
At the end of the day, going smart begins with data – including collecting data and relaying it to core stakeholders and using it to improve services and encourage efficiencies. Hamilton stands out as a particularly strong adopter of smart city technology – due to their size and ability to roll out projects quickly. Leveraging innovation in our cities means creating spaces that are ultimately more liveable and sustainable. So, kudos to Hamilton for getting it right. You can read more about Smart Hamilton developments here.
More about Radiola
At Radiola, we are lovers of smart technology and forward thinking. Our own products are focused on Real Time Passenger Information, with a view towards fleet and city management, with developer-friendly APIs to integrate into current systems or display systems like our eStops.