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A smart sense to share

Dr Johan Barthelemy
SMART Infrastructure Facility

In-demand skills in applied maths, statistics and computer programming contributing to wave of ‘smart’ cities

Smart sensors, with embedded microprocessors and wireless communication links, have the potential to revolutionise the way systems and infrastructure are monitored, controlled, and maintained.

From healthcare, to public utilities, transport and housing, data is collected from these sensors and connected by the internet-of-things (IoT) network. This information is then used to inform realtime software applications.

As Director of the SMART Infrastructure Facility’s IoT Hub and Digital Living Lab, Dr Johan Barthelemy is leading the charge, designing and testing ever-improving sensors and devices and the associated backend application programming, including developing machine learning algorithms to process the abundance of collected data.

This technology being developed at SMART by Dr Dr Barthelemy and his team is being applied in a number of ways. For example, they are contributing to the SMART Pedestrian Project in which Liverpool City Council, UOW and Meshed, an IT company, can monitor pedestrian and vehicle movements around Liverpool’s CBD based on IoT sensors and artificial intelligence. By understanding how the city moves, efficiencies can be created and lives can be improved.

The Digital Living Lab team is vital to the Vision Illawarra project - a regional digital dashboard collating regional demographic data and a myriad of other economic and social statistics. This online platform informs evidence-based planning and integrated development in the Illawarra. The project also connects with a number of partners including local council organisations, Sydney Water, Endeavour Energy, Remondis, NSW Government agencies and Iris Research.

A large portion of the data collected by Vision Illawarra is accessible by the community, via the online dashboard, and this reflects a key ethos of Dr Barthelemy and the Digital Living Lab - that ideas should be shared to enable development and encourage creation.

This is to ensure the facilitation of smart city solutions, by the people living in those cities, to improve the quality of lives in a way that accounts for the local environment and culture. It is an ideal which Dr Barthelemy holds close to heart.

“The open source philosophy is what inspires me: sharing the results of our work with the community and seeing it being used and improved is very important,” he says.

The in-house development of the sensor network and associated code allows Dr Barthelemy to ensure the work they do meets this accessibility mandate, and facilitates the huge community of academic and amateur interest in IoT technologies.

Dr Barthelemy’s background in applied mathematics, statistics and data science with highly tuned programming and modelling skills have combined to place him in high demand. He makes contributions through Australian and interational professional organisations, including the Namur Institute for Complex Systems, and applied projects such as the SMART Pedestrian Project. Critically, he is leading the charge to train the next generation of specialists to meet demand in this rapidly expanding field of smart cities.