The City of Brimbank is a local government area located within the metropolitan area of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The council manages over AUD$2.65 billion in assets comprising land, building and other infrastructure assets such as roads, footpaths, bike paths and drainage. Brimbank has a population of 196,712.
Brimbank City Council’s 5G approach to infrastructure management reached a new level, with artificial intelligence now developed and able to detect damaged road signs and dumped rubbish.
Responsible for over 20 000 road signs and receiving over 7000 reports of dumped rubbish every year, a community survey indicated that improving the appearance of Brimbank’s roads and roadside spaces represented a high priority.
The Mobile 5G Internet of Things (IoT) solution for data-driven road asset maintenance entails a research partnership between Brimbank City Council, Swinburne University of Technology and Optus. The project will automate asset condition monitoring and auditing, reducing the time (to within a week) to identify and document all of Brimbank’s road and roadside assets requiring maintenance and provide real-time information to maintenance crews.
The research project involves 5G-based cameras or laser technology fitted onto Council’s waste collection trucks to gather data on Brimbank’s roads and footpaths as the trucks travel over the municipality delivering waste services.
High-resolution stereo vision cameras and GPS sensors were fitted onto 11 waste collection trucks to gather data during their usual rounds across Council’s 900 km road network. The technology documents visual evidence of damaged signs and dumped rubbish and pin-points their exact location on a municipality map dashboard.
The stereo vision and depth cameras attached to the garbage trucks will collect 3D perception data at a rate of 900 megabits per second. For comparison, average mobile download speeds in Australia in 2020 were around 43 megabits per second.
This makes the environment perfect for testing the capabilities of the super-fast 5G network while also helping maintenance teams work more effectively.
As part of the project, maintenance teams can get information directly on their phones and upload proof of maintenance performed on the spot. This real-time data will decide what public roads, road signs, road spaces and other public assets require maintenance. The automated process will transform the current time-based maintenance approach into one that’s reactive – it will help fast-track data collection and maintenance of assets.
Overall, the data collected enables Brimbank City Council to explore the possibilities of asset monitoring and automated notifications of maintenance requirements in real time. The project’s next phase is to integrate this into Council’s digital systems and processes. Further avenues for research include identifying road maintenance requirements such as potholes and faded line markings.
The research project is supported by a $1.18 million Federal Government grant under the Australian 5G Innovation Initiative. The program was created to help small to large businesses test and develop 5G uses, applications, services, and products.
Brimbank is the only local government area to receive funding under the inaugural round of these grants.
With more than 900 kilometres of road under maintenance and an estimated $15 to $20 million spent every year of maintaining and improving road and roadside assets in Brimbank alone, it is hoped that the project will not only improve the lives and safety of local residents, but also help councils around Australia save millions.
A partnership approach
This project is a research partnership between Brimbank City Council, Swinburne University of Technology and Optus.
Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman, Director Factory of the Future and Digital Innovation Lab, Swinburne University of Technology commented,
“We are delighted to be working with the forward-thinking Brimbank City Council, and utilising Swinburne’s leading capabilities and world-renowned expertise in Internet of Things and digital innovation to demonstrate a solution that can be used in cities across Australia and around the world.”
Brimbank’s former Mayor Cr Jasmine Nguyen commented,
“This innovative 5G-based solution research project allows us to explore the possibilities of more efficient ways we can identify which assets need maintenance and how we can get this information to our work crews to respond.
“This research is a great example of how we can incorporate technology into our current processes and optimise our existing services to the Brimbank community.”
“Our project will also lead the way for other councils considering 5G based solutions for road and roadside asset condition monitoring.”