Environmental sensors deployed to capture microclimate data

Date published: 28 November 2022

Essential information about changing microclimates and landscapes is being collected with Townsville-made environmental sensors being deployed across the city.

The solar-powered, non-intrusive sensors have been developed in Townsville since 2011 and can be placed in different natural and urban environments to collect environmental data of small-scale changes that are normally invisible to humans, as well as major weather events like heatwaves, floods and cyclones.

Council has received $125,000 in funding from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) as part of the Queensland Government’s North Queensland Disaster Mitigation Program to develop and deploy this low-cost environmental sensor technology.

Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability Committee chairperson Maurie Soars said the sensors measured a wide variety of environmental impacts.

“These locally made sensors can measure everything from temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and solar irradiance to rainfall, water height, water quality, and the tilt and vibration that trees feel in the wind,” Cr Soars said.

“The sensors are very comprehensive and provide essential data for Council’s teams to make informed decisions on how weather conditions and environmental changes can impact our city and community. The information gathered by the sensors can also be integrated to systems used by different government agencies, making it a critical resource during and after weather events.

“The information transmitted by these sensors will be near real-time, which helps council and the community to better manage energy costs in city buildings, homes and businesses, and to improve our understanding of complex urban waterways and wetlands.

“This data can also help increase our knowledge of environmental flow paths during heavy rain and flood events and provide further insight around tropical design, resilience and growing Townsville as a sustainable destination.”

Data collected from deployed sensors will be collated and made publicly available on Council’s Townsville Dashboards website.

Cr Soars said Council was proud to work with local businesses and schools to build these environmental sensors.

“Council has worked with Townsville based sensor start-up and innovator LiXiA for several years to build and industrialise these environmental sensors,” he said.

“Beyond that, Council is also working with primary and high schools to get students in on the action, having them build and help deploy sensors. This is a great way to engage young people and encourage them to think about environmental health in their own backyards.

“Members of the community wanting to try their hand at building sensors, can come see Council’s sustainability team at community events like Eco Fiesta, Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre Open Days and Get Ready Townsville.”