Australian committee pushes for smart ICT in infrastructure

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Australia’s House of Representatives has completed an inquiry into the role of smart ICT (information and communications technologies) in the design and planning of infrastructure and has called on the national government to take a stronger lead on developing an integrated approach in order to capitalise on the opportunities these technologies present.

The central recommendation made in the report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities is that a Smart Infrastructure Task Force should be set up. The role of this, the report states, would be to provide coordination between national and state governments, industry and researchers for developing and implementing smart ICT in the design, planning and development of infrastructure, and in the maintenace and optimisation of existing infrastructure.

The inquiry incorporated around 50 external submissions, including a number of engineering companies and software company Bentley Systems. The report sets out opportunities around some of the new technologies available, such as building information modelling (BIM), geospatial technology, and internet of things. It examines the needs and issues around data collection and harmonisation, the possibilities around emergencies and disasters, and at how to promote smart ICT.

The proposed task force would be based on the UK’s BIM Task Group. The committee has recommended that this would take responsibility for national coordination of the development of national protocols for the release of infrastructure-related data in both the government and private sectors, the development of standards for the collection and management of infrastructure related data, including metadata standards, and an objects library.

The evidence heard included a number of examples relating to water, including input from IBM about a pilot project with Townsville City Council, Queensland. According to IBM, this has allowed delivery of near real-time information about daily water usage from digital water meters to the council and residents via a web portal, reducing overall consumption and offsetting future infrastructure investment. IBM reported that half of the consumers changed their behaviour after seeing their use pattern on the portal, that there was a ’98 per cent faster’ notification of water leaks, reduced from three months to one day, and a 10% overall average drop in water use by households using the portal.

‘Smart ICT – Report of the inquiry into the role of smart ICT in the design and planning of infrastructure’, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities.


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