How the Whitsundays Regional Council is pioneering a digital-first vision for local government

21 Jun 2022

The Whitsundays is a thriving coastal paradise that hosts some of the country’s most iconic natural wonders. But beyond the powdery white sand, crystal clear water, and vibrant local communities, lies an innate desire for innovation, driven by the region’s pioneering local council.

The Whitsunday Regional Council is on a mission to improve its level of service to its 36,000 residents and over 600,000 yearly visitors. This can be a challenging endeavour, as the region’s area spans almost 24,000 square kilometres, with numerous communities and residential areas.

The Council engaged Telstra Purple to help build a digital roadmap to identify how it could use data and digital technologies to bolster core operations and services. While these conversations began with a single project, Telstra worked closely with the Council to develop a sophisticated IoT platform that is now delivering valuable outcomes for residents and visitors.

Bolstering core council services with a robust IoT platform

Whitsundays Regional Council have been a Telstra customer for many years, developing core connectivity to connect staff and residents throughout the community.

While they were satisfied with their existing services as a foundation, the council wanted to investigate how it could deliver extra value to its community. As a regional area with many wide- open spaces, it decided to pursue the development of an IoT strategy to address some key challenges.

The council consulted with the Telstra Purple team to identify areas where digital technologies could drive some incredible value. Armed with this knowledge, they set about building an IoT roadmap and started work on a number of high value projects.

The council worked with Telstra integration partner Nucleus3 to employ a Telstra IoT platform, based on Cumulocity, which provided a single platform to develop and trial various IoT projects. This was also supplemented by a GreenBe customer facing portal, which delivers insights back to the community.

Whitsundays Regional Council is pioneering a digital-first vision for local government

High value projects that make a big difference

Whitsundays Regional Council started their IoT journey by trialling projects that would have the biggest and most immediate impact on the community.

That started with the installation of digital water meters to allow council staff to easily take readings and assess water usage. This implementation had immediate results, identifying two leaks on properties within the first 24 hours of installation, with alerts sent out to impacted residents. It also speeds up the reading process significantly, having recently allowed the Council to complete a month’s worth of readings in just one week.

The Council is also trialling smart weather stations to quickly and efficiently inform the public about weather elements, such as wind speeds and rain.

These new digitally enabled stations provide information on weather patterns in near real-time, bolstering disaster resilience and response processes and ensuring the community always have most up to date information during severe weather events. They also provide location-specific data to rural and coastal towns, which was previously hard to attain.

Noting the success of these two projects, the council re-engaged with Nucleus3 to determine how else it could drive value with its existing IoT platform. Through a comprehensive consultancy period, they determined 100 potential other use cases for IoT within the organisation.

Whitsundays Regional Council is now in the process of extrapolating out real business cases for those projects and will begin trialling some of them this year.

Working alongside other councils to drive differentiated resident outcomes

Whitsundays Regional Council is a pioneering force when it comes to digital strategy and IoT deployment, although it’s not interested in keeping its work to itself. The organisation is determined to work closely with other councils in the region, to collaborate and find ways of driving additional value.

"We want to engage councils around us that are interested in similar sorts of things, so we're interested to talk to others in the region.”
Scott Wilkinson, Manager of Innovation & Technology at Whitsunday Regional Council

Working alongside other councils, Telstra Purple, Nucleus3, and Whitsundays Regional Council will scale the use of its Cumulocity IoT platform to provide innovative experiences to residents all over the state.

The Council is an incredible example of how digital innovation and IoT can drive real change within local government, showing true leadership through times of immense uncertainty.


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