Project Members:

Ian Atkinson (eResearch Director) (,

Chris Christensen (Project Manager tbc) ()

Clair Meade (Data Librarian) (,

ANDS Contact:

Kathryn Unsworth (

Project Status:


JCU & ConnectedUrbanTropics

James Cook University

Project Description

James Cook University has two main campuses in northern Queensland, Townsville and Cairns with populations of 200,000 and 160,000 respectively. Like most Australian regions, Townsville and Cairns are undergoing structural and economic stresses resulting from the end of the mining boom. This cyclical downturn is compounded by other challenges including the scaling back of traditional industries with the result being high unemployment and economic decline. In addition, much of northern Queensland is the grip of severe drought and there is now a pressing need to manage energy and water resources more effectively - retail power price increases of 100% over the past 5 years.

Both the Townsville City Council and the Cairns Regional Council are actively exploring ‘smart city’ approaches to better manage their infrastructure, services and have been making exploratory investments in related data systems.

Data can be utilised to better understand what is happening in the region and to better manage scarce resources. For example, city-wide data, such as energy and water, are generated by numerous parties (both council and consumer) and could provide patterns of utilisation to the Cairns and Townsville City Councils to manage local issues relevant to city planning. However, to date this has not been effectively used due to the disparate nature of the data and non-existent planning tools for use in discovering this data.

The Connected Urban Tropics project will pull together various types of data to build an urban data collection specific to the Tropics, and will include:
● data from Ergon/ROAMS on tree coverage (collected from LIDAR flights used to track tree maintenance), urban heat maps of rooftops, urban walkability; and
● water usage data in public parks and sporting grounds,
● long-term monitoring community groups and NGO’s (e.g Creekwatch),
● data regarding active transport and walkability,
● water and energy consumption and use, and survey data about place from government and University sources.

The majority of the datasets will have geo-spatial aspects and be spatially enabled to allow data to be mapped, layered and integrated with existing data sets.