With 85 percent of Australians living within 50km of coastal areas and waterways, our communities have resigned themselves to the realities of weather extremes such as floods and storms impacting their towns and businesses.  

The four councils from the region have formed a partnership with the University of Wollongong and Lendlease Calderwood Valley Communities to innovate using smart technologies to better understand the region’s waterways and reduce the impact of severe weather events.

Clr Gordon Bradbery AM,  Chair of the ISJO, is very excited about this project. 

"Our region is particular vulnerable to extreme weather patterns, being sandwiched between the mountains and the sea”

“The Smart Waterways project is an opportunity for great minds from our region to come together and lead the way in terms of using smart technology to improve the way we manage and respond to the impact of water,’’ Cr Bradbery said. 

“This project received $478,449 from the Australian Government, through its Smart Cities and Suburbs program and is providing us the opportunity to look at ways to improve how smart technology can help us manage the very real risk that flash flooding provides to our residents.’’

The Smarter Schools for a Smarter Planet component of the Smart Waterways Project will be working with more than ten high schools through the region.

“As it is Science Week it is a good opportunity to talk about our collaboration with some of our regional high schools to provide students studying STEM with a real-life hands-on opportunity of applying smart technology.” said Associate Professor Sarah Howard who is managing the Smarter Schools for a Smart Planet project.

Through the use of sensors, important data can be gathered that can monitor and provide information about our region’s waterways and this has the potential to help us better understand our environment.  Sensors can help us understand water quality, how our rivers interact with our beaches and oceans, and how to manage our stormwater more effectively.

According to Warrawong High School Head Teacher Administration/Science Teacher, Marc Gunner “For our students it can be difficult to get excited about what is taught in the classroom if they don’t understand how it is relevant and applies in the real world.  This project is a great opportunity for our students to use smart technology and understand how it can help us improve how we look after our environment.  It provides an opportunity to solve real life issues.”

Cr Bradbery said fostering an interest in the next generation in STEM and providing a real-world link is exciting for all involved.

“As those who have lived in our city for some time know, flooding can happen quickly and lead to tragedy. We only have to reflect upon the 1998 floods to remember the devastation flood waters can bring.’’ he said.

“Providing young people in our schools with an opportunity to understand science in a practical way is important because it demonstrates textbook learning can have an application outside the classroom. And, you never know, one of these young people might just one day be a key figure in our region developing new technologies for the benefit of all who live here

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