Spark switches on 5G in Auckland and demonstrates smart city applications

It has partnered with Auckland Transport to install an IoT-enabled infrastructure in the Wynyard Quarter to demonstrate connected lighting, smart parking, smart benches and smart bins.

New Zealand’s largest telecoms and digital services company, Spark, has switched on 5G in downtown Auckland.

It has also partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for the New Zealand city’s central business district.

IoT-enabled network

Spark and AT installed an IoT-enabled infrastructure at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, which includes 5G connected lighting, smart benches with charging capability, smart bins, and parking sensors.

The commercial 5G network is up and running in Auckland, with coverage across Britomart, the Viaduct, Commercial Bay and Wynyard Quarter, as well as in North Shore’s Takapuna.

“We’re learning how to use smart infrastructure in a way that works for Auckland so we can leverage applications as they evolve and become more commonplace,” said Auckland Transport group manager technology solutions, Chris Creighton. “For example, we estimate Aucklanders visiting the city can spend up to one third of their journey searching for a carpark, so we’re working with Spark to explore ways to help Aucklanders find available carparks quicker by installing 200 smart parking sensors throughout the Quarter.”

Smart lighting has been installed in the surrounding streets of Wynyard Quarter’s Innovation Precinct, which can now generate heat maps of foot traffic to help AT identify any “choke points” to better inform future infrastructure investments, as well as monitor air and noise pollution.

Some lights are fitted with 5G connected CCTV which could enable better detection of criminal activity, capturing high definition video even at night, and can be dimmed and brightened remotely to help reduce energy consumption.

Solar-powered smart benches with smart phone and electric scooter charging capabilities have also been installed at the Quarter, connected over Spark’s LoraWAN IoT network.

Sensors attached to bins can now detect when they’re full and could contact the council for service, preventing overflow and reducing the number of rubbish trucks on the road.

Creighton said that, in the future, IoT applications powered by 5G could be used to detect incidents such as car crashes or pedestrian accidents and notify the appropriate authorities, reducing the time it takes for emergency services to respond and potentially saving lives.

Spark and AT have installed the IoT technology at Wynyard Quarter with key technology partners, NB Smart Cities, Glowbal NZ, SmartSensor Technologies and Parkable with the shared goal of using IoT and data to make better decisions and improve quality of life for people.

“We are excited to launch our commercial 5G network in downtown Auckland today, building on the private network we have in place to support Emirates Team New Zealand and the launch of Spark Race Zone last month,” said Spark Technology lead, Renee Mateparae.

She added: “Our partnership with AT is about helping bring to life the significant contribution 5G and IoT will make in addressing urban, economic and sustainability challenges across the country.

“We know from existing research that IoT applications can improve quality of life significantly by saving us time, improving health and safety outcomes, reducing environmental impact, and boosting social connectedness and civic participation.”