Nurturing the innovation generation

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As the Smart Cities movement gathers momentum worldwide, a new generation of University of Adelaide students is preparing to take our urban lives to entirely new levels of sophistication, satisfaction and sustainability.

Inspired by the innovations of today, these professionals of tomorrow are already playing an important role in ensuring our cities have a more efficient and effective future through their involvement in Smart City projects in collaboration with leading industry partners.

A recent project involved Ecoversity (the sustainability engagement arm of the University), Centre on Research for Engineering Software Technologies (CREST) researchers, and software engineering students for developing an app to educate fellow students about correct bin choice for waste disposal.

Colour-coded bins were rolled out across the University’s campuses in 2010 but the Ecoversity team identified a need for better student education, because recycled waste was still ending up in landfill.

“The idea of gamifying waste disposal education through an app called Super Sort is an excellent example of an interdisciplinary effort for technological innovation in raising awareness about on campus sustainable waste management,” says the students’ supervisor, Professor Ali Babar of the School of Computer Science.

“This app provided a fun platform to relay clear and simple messages around bin choice, focusing on coffee cup disposal, emptying recyclable containers and matching common waste items with the correct coloured bin.”

The games were tested at a student event on campus where over 300 used the app and provided feedback.

Ecoversity conducted a waste audit prior and following the event, which showed a 12% decrease in recyclables ending up in the landfill bin, and less contamination had occurred in both the recycling and organics bins.

“The trial was well received so there are now plans to further develop the app and integrate it into the broader student community,” adds Professor Babar.

In addition to the Super Sort project, further students played an integral role in the creation of a huge smart-technology-integrated model of Adelaide’s North Terrace precinct for South Australia’s 2016 Open State festival.

The students worked closely with global Adelaide-based company Buddy to incorporate a wide variety of working sensors and tiny computing devices into the LEGO model—affectionately known as Budelaide—and integrate the data they collected with Buddy’s data processing platform. This information was then displayed in real time on a clear, easily understood central dashboard.

“It was a fantastic representation of how Adelaide can become one of the world’s leading Smart Cities by embracing technology to improve the lives of those who live and work in it,” says School of Computer Science senior lecturer, Dr Christoph Treude.

“The students incorporated things like movement-detecting street lighting with built-in CCTV and Wi-Fi, sensors to direct commuters to vacant parking spaces and reduce traffic congestion, and renewable energy and water-quality monitoring.

“But their most exciting challenge was the design and development of the software for collecting, processing, and displaying all the data available.”

Displayed at the Adelaide Smart City Studio in Adelaide City Council’s Colonel Light Centre, the project included scale models of such recognisable landmarks as: the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute building; Adelaide Convention Centre; Parliament House; and Adelaide Oval.

“The exercise obviously showcased Adelaide’s Smart City ambitions, but it also highlighted many future opportunities for South Australian entrepreneurs and innovators,” adds Dr Treude.

“I’ve no doubt our students will be among those taking advantage of them.”

Related links:
Smart Cities 
School of Computer Science
Professor Ali Babar profile
Dr Christoph Treude profile