Smart City: Starting to Wire up Wellington: Calling on volunteers to build a community sourced Smart City

Ird Beam BlockOver the past few months a group of us having been looking seriously at how we can start to deploy sensors into the city with little cost and overhead, making the data free to use. We now have plans for a couple of devices, which we plan to start building shortly. What we need is a few more people who are willing to help. We need some cash, we need some places to be able to put the devices, and we need some help developing the web services that will serve the data up.

This started last year as a Civic Hackathon around transport. A number of ideas came out of the day, one of which was pedestrian and bicycle counters that could be built at very low cost. They are currently operating on Mt Victoria. The various groups have been keeping in touch over the last few months and the next step we think is to start deploying some sensors that the public can access for free.

So the first thing we want is ideas. What kind of things can we measure and where? Current ideas are:

  1. A Lambton Quay air-quality sensor. This would show in real-time the particulate count on the street.
  2. Similar real-time sensors at beaches.
  3. Temperature sensors.
  4. Pedestrian and traffic counters by time. I.e. How many people are moving through a primary intersection over a period of five minutes.
  5. Cycle track counts. The volume of cyclists on tracks showing popularity and the best times to ride.

We need locations. If you are willing to have a device installed on your building in the city, in your office, on your property, and you can offer us a power-plug and a WiFi connection, that would be grand.

Sponsorship. The devices themselves are likely less than $200, however that’s a stretch for the team individually to purchase, so if you are willing to sponsor a device or two then your logo will go on the webpage.

Developers and designers. People who can use free Cloud services to aggregate the data from the sensors and start to create a “Wellington Smart City Dashboard.”

Builders. People who are happy to build the sensors from scratch, a challenging process given they will need to be hardened to survive Wellington’s elements. We have an excellent gentleman, Andrew, who helped us in the last Civic Hackathon and Hour of Code. We’d propose organising a day for him and the various helpers to come together and start building the sensor and network.

Sensors will need to talk to each other as well as WiFi and potentially Mobile Networks. They may need solar power if they are in hard to reach places.

Right now, we need volunteers who are happy to get involved and ideas on what we can measure, and where. This will be a community based initiative that will be run in conjunction with the City Council. The idea is to prove the idea that a sensing city, Smart City, has value. By creating a prototype City Dashboard, we can show the merit and further expand the idea with more sensors over time.

Please send me an email directly ( and let me know you are keen to help and what you want to do, or if you just have ideas.

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