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Digitally enabled urban renewal for the City of Unley

Submitted by Adam Beck on June 7, 2020

Just south of the Adelaide CBD in South Australia is the municipality of Unley. Like many suburban communities Unley has a village-like feel with a major road corridor - King William Road - serving as somewhat of a heart to the local services offered to citizens.

When it was time for a face lift, SAGE Automation was primed to ensure this community village would benefit from a range of smart community upgrades that would provide the city with greater intelligence on the precinct's use, and deliver more engaging experiences to the local community.

The opportunity

King William Road is a popular main street in the City of Unley, South Australia. With a distinct village-feel, the area is home to many boutiques and cafes/restaurants, making it a popular destination for shopping and dining.

The paved surface of King William Road (KWR) had reached the end of its lifespan. As part of the surface upgrade project, the City of Unley saw an opportunity to transform the road, utilising smart city technology and creating flexible spaces that enhance the precinct for the community. 

The smart precinct solutions

Working with principal contractor BMD, SAGE identified and implemented opportunities to deliver a space which would employ efficient use of space and energy, while adding community-focused designs for the precinct.

In addition to creating a people-focused space, SAGE also provided the City of Unley with tools to improve control and management of their assets.


As part of the King William Road design planning phase, SAGE implemented pedestrian and traffic movement technology to monitor visitor counts and movements for the road before, during and after civil works. This provided the Council with critical movement and count data to plan for minimised impact to traffic and the retail space.

Drawing on movement trends, the council was able to identify how people moved around the region and could plan construction zones to reduce disruption for business owners and to minimise the impact for visitors. 

Data gathered from this technology enabled Council to quantify the impact of the project for local businesses during construction and following the revitalisation project. 

As a result of the revitalisation works, the City of Unley was able to demonstrate that twice as many people attended the 2020 Unley Gourmet Gala, hosted on KWR, in comparison to the previous year. 

Industry-first lighting solution

The KWR project was able to integrate an industry first, vendor agnostic, smart lighting system to enable increased visibility and control of the precinct’s lighting.

As part of the upgrade, SAGE installed a DALI protocol lighting system comprised of 65 smart lights from various manufacturers. The equipment was installed and connected by an optic fibre redundant network. The integrated light poles (Multipoles) have power and data capabilities and can be individually monitored and controlled.

The smart lighting solution installed on KWR allows for each light to be individually monitored and controlled.

The lighting solution can draw input from the Bureau of Meteorology to automatically adjust lighting levels based on weather conditions and ambient light.    

Lighting dashboard

In conjunction with the smart lighting solution, SAGE Automation developed a dashboard for enhanced monitoring and control of the lighting system. The technology allows for lighting levels to be automatically adjusted during busy periods, including events, based on data from SAGE’s pedestrian movement technology. 

The dashboard enables a real-time view of the current state of the lighting, allowing for a rapid fault discovery, ease of lighting control and increased monitoring of consumption.

Key features to the success of the lighting solution included:

  • Vendor-agnostic platform — the lighting design leveraged existing industrial off-the-shelf hardware with no ongoing contracts
  • Rapid fault discovery and resolution — dashboard enabled easy identification and measuring of faults on a per-light basis, with individual luminaire status easily checked
  • Pedestrian detection — lighting levels can be automatically adjusted during busy periods, including events, based on data from SAGE’s pedestrian detection technology 
  • Remote light control — lighting levels can be remotely dimmed or adjusted for events or in-line with changing weather conditions.

Digital kiosks

SAGE supplied, instsalled and commissioned two touchscreen digital kiosks on KWR. These colourful touchscreens are highly engaging, allow for discovery of services and wayfinding, as well as promoting events to the community.

The information makes it easy for people to discover nearby points of interest and upcoming events, as well as improving accessibility by making it easier to find the closest and most convenient services. Digital kiosks can be easily updated, allowing for up-to-date transport timetables or service information to be accessible to the public. The kiosks have the ability to list locations and promotions of local businesses nearby. 

Innovative, flexible public space

The solutions delivered to KWR have helped to create a vibrant, engaging community space. The popular precinct is now an integrated street that helps people to connect, find their way and enjoy spending time in the area. 

Power and event bollards offer a more sustainable, more aesthetically pleasing solution for energy supply along the street, providing extra outlets that are easily accessible for events. Two types of bollards were installed along the KWR precinct:

  • 4 event bollards —the event bollards provide additional access to power, replacing the need for generators to supply power during events
  • 2 event bollards with power and communications technology for future smart city control solutions.

Smart benches

The street design also utilises smart benches, which are 100% solar powered to allow visitors to charge their devices via USB or wirelessly. With inbuilt solar used for recharging, the benches reduce power consumption while providing seating along the busy street.

Community outcomes

With the transformation project revitalising the streetscape, the smart city innovations implemented in the KWR precinct are focused on the changing community needs. The space now offers greater accessibility, flexibility and connection through integrated technology.

The community benefits from:

  • An enriched public space through smart lighting, smart parking, increased access to Wi-Fi and improved wayfinding
  • Improved accountability from the City of Unley, using data to make decisions based on real visitation data
  • Smart lighting controls which can improve safety and enhance the atmosphere during events, and during changing weather conditions
  • Digital kiosks that help people to connect with local services, find their way and access the latest event information.
  • Improved event spaces that are more sustainable and community friendly.
  • Improved, flexible outdoor dining options. 

The full case study with images is available on the SAGE Automation website.

For further guidance on planning and designing smart precincts and communities, the Code for Smart Communities provides a blueprint for government stakeholders and private sector companies alike.