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Smart cell technology delivers ‘connected garden’ at Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Domain

Smart cell technology delivers ‘connected garden’ at Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Domain
February 9, 2018

Green space in the heart of Sydney has become Australia’s most extensively connected public location with the launch of free Wi-Fi throughout the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Domain.

Enabling visitors to visitors to enjoy enhanced connectivity through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain, the ‘connected garden’ has been delivered in conjunction with smart city enablers, ENE.HUB and Optus, who have installed ground-breaking smart cell technology inside 40 ‘smart nodes’ across 63 hectares of parkland - making it one of Australia’s most extensive and digital-connected spaces.

The SMART.NODE™ poles (LED lighting poles) provide free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain enhancing 4G mobile connectivity for Optus customers and future proofing the Garden for 5G technology and beyond.

Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain, Kim Ellis explains “we are not a static garden or green space. We have over five million visitors from all over the world and host up to 20 major events with over one million patrons annually.

“Smart cities are changing the world and the way people connect with one another - physical-digital spaces are now a standard and expected when people are visiting Sydney, especially international tourists. This is only the start of our digital transformation. We want to become the most innovative and progressive botanic garden in the world and the possibilities are endless.”

Modular in design the ENE.HUB, the SMART.NODE™ poles are self-contained and modular in design, aimed at reducing urban clutter by integrating a range of additional services for visitors.

Additional features include energy-efficient LED lighting and beacons, Ranger Assist push-buttons, general-purpose power points and electric vehicle charge points.

Advising that the network has limitless capacity for the future digital services that will be delivered with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Ellis added “ENE-HUB is proud to have worked in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to deliver Australia’s most extensive and open Smart City Platform, enabling the best possible connectivity, improved safety and new world services delivered discretely.”

To power the Wi-Fi, Optus invested $5 million to install innovative small cell mobile technology; a type of mobile coverage that provides immediate mobile capacity by expanding the network into targeted areas, particularly useful in crowded locations or situations.

Insights from the testing phase over the New Year’s Eve period revealed extraordinary results and performance data, with 7,000+ users simultaneously using the Wi-Fi from 6pm to 2am across nine events at the Garden and Domain.

Optus Managing Director of Networks, Dennis Wong, advised “Optus listened to the Garden’s desired visitor experience and customised a solution that meets their needs today and prepares them for the digital future (like 5G).

“For instance, putting on our innovation hat, we have selected small cell so that we can integrate the solution into a bespoke smart pole design so there is no impact to visitors’ visual experiences in these beautiful surrounds while enjoying the great experience on their mobile service.”

The connected garden concept has also seen the launch of a new interactive app for the Garden, available in both English and Mandarin. Supported with an improved, more accessible and content-rich website for visitors, particularly those from overseas, who will be able to connect with the Garden on social media more readily.

The app provides real-time wayfinding, a personal journal where users can save their favourite experiences about the Garden. Additional features include:

• Self-guided walking tours with audio and augmented reality (AR)
• History of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
• Discover restaurants, cafes, bars, amenities and other landmarks within the Garden
• Find out what's on and discover events and exhibitions
• Find something special in the Garden with our easy to use search tool
• Apple Watch integration providing real-time wayfinding and navigation.

Optus has also been installing small cells across Australia, including in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia, and will be providing 49 small cells under round two of the Federal Government's mobile blackspots program.

The miniature base stations increase capacity without the expense of having to build new mobile towers.

Optus is planning to roll out its 5G services in 2019.

Lower image shows Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Domain, Kim Ellis at the launch of the ‘connected garden’ initiative.

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