- The Auckland Council’s Safeswim program won the smart water category at IDC’s Smart Cities Asia Pacific Awards for a web and digital signage platform, warning swimmers about water conditions.
- The platform includes real-time data on wastewater and stormwater networks along with predictive models, which can generate forecasts for 92 swimming sites around Auckland. The forecasts include factors like rain, tide, sunlight and water quality, and now have more than 67% accuracy in predicting swimming conditions.
- The platform has been integrated into a Safeswim website for New Zealand, with collaboration from the Auckland Council, Watercare, Surf Life Saving Northern Region and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.
Contest organizers praised the project for collaboration among organizations and the use of data to increase accuracy for users. IDC market analyst Jefferson King said in a statement it also adapts to changing demographic trends.
“In recent years New Zealand has been experiencing tremendous population growth in its urban centres, putting strain on infrastructure such as roading and housing,” King said. “To help cope with these growing pains, cities need to use resources more efficiently and that’s what smart cities are all about.”
Cities have been embracing the use of data — and private partners that can manipulate it — to create similar tools, especially through hackathons that partner public officials with tech startups. New York City in June announced the winners of its first open data competition, awarding top marks to a budgeting project and an app that determines tree survival rates. Columbus, OH also held its own hackathon in the spring that focused on transportation challenges, including parking management and expanding transit access to low-income neighborhoods, a reflection of the city's changing needs.
The Rockefeller Foundation offshoot 100 Resilient Cities is looking to kickstart more data innovation through a "Data Platform and Data Exchange CoLab" announced last month, which will offer one winning city assistance on building a data platform and inventory. By letting partners into the vast stores of data that most urban agencies hold, smart cities can create new platforms like Safeswim that make life easier for residents and visitors alike.