Christchurch, New Zealand Uses Smart Tech to Rebuild After Earthquake

The city of Christchurch, New Zealand is using smart city technologies while rebuilding from a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck six years ago. Christchurch’s central city and eastern suburbs were badly affected, with damage to buildings and infrastructure already weakened by the magnitude 7.1 Canterbury earthquake of September 4, 2010 and its aftershocks.

An online information hub – SmartView – is being designed to provide information about a broad array of topics of interest to residents, such as water quality, road work, bus routes and real-time notifications of bus locations to flight information, events and news.  The city also performing a three month trial-run with solar-powered trash cans that include compactors so they can hold several times more than traditional receptacles. When they’re full, they will send an email to contractors for disposal. Software that will provide a heat map of city locations that suffer the most damage during an earthquake is being developed and the city is also deploying a seismic monitoring network.

Teresa McCallum, Smart Cities Program Manager for Christchurch has a number of projects planned for the future:

  • A sensor network with several different applications, including monitoring air quality and a flood alert system that will allow the city to monitor rivers in areas of the city prone to flooding. All data received would be fed into SmartView;
  • Wi-Fi sensors to monitor pedestrian flow in the central business district;
  • Bluetooth sensors at car parks intended for disabled drivers that would detect which drivers have parking passes and which don’t.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck stated, “we want to get to the point where people can get amazing information in real-time that helps them make choices about where to swim or what road to take. We will all know much more about the city’s environment — for example the rivers and air quality at any given moment.”