BENDIGO garbage trucks are being used to test the strength of signals transmitted by the free Internet of Things network, which could have future applications for agriculture, parking, meteorology and more.
Sensors have been placed on the roof of the truck’s cabs as they travel around Bendigo throughout the week, giving researchers at La Trobe University an understanding of any weaknesses in the network.
There are currently four gateways in Bendigo as part of the network, providing free long-range signals for sensors that have long battery life. Data from the garbage trucks will guide where more gateways are needed.
La Trobe University IT associate professor Simon Egerton said the Internet of Things would allow devices to connect to the internet over long areas, aiding in data collection for weather, conservation and other uses.
“It’s good for places that are remote and are outside Wi-Fi coverage to collect information from the environment,” he said.
“One use at the moment is the real-time weather sensor network, allowing us to see weather parameters such as temperature, humidity and pressure.
“It also aids in city planning. You can see which areas are hotter than the rest.”
Still in its early stages in Bendigo, Dr Egerton was eager to hear of other potential uses for the network.
He said sensors could be used to help drivers know which parks around town are vacant or occupied.
“It could give you real-time information about parking availability, and you could use a mobile app to reserve a park,” Dr Egerton said.
“An agricultural use could be with beehives. Apiarists need to travel long distances to inspect their beehives, but you could instead place sensors inside to remotely monitor them.”
City of Greater Bendigo regional sustainable development manager Trevor Budge said garbage trucks were a “simple and cost effective” way to test the strength of the network.
“To properly map the network would have taken much longer and been very costly if it had not been done using vehicles already travelling these routes,” he said.
“The sensors on the trucks have simply been mapping how far and well the network extends, they are not measuring or collecting data on anything else.
“The city has no immediate plans to collect more data using these sensors.
“However there are other cities that use their garbage trucks to collect data, for example about road surfaces, and this is something we may consider in the future.”
La Trobe University is hosting a meet-up in Room 1.30 at 6pm on Wednesday, October 24, for anyone interested in supporting the Internet of Things network.