City of Sydney Parks

Irrigation and Sportsfield Lighting Control

The City of Sydney (CoS) government area covers just over 26 densely-populated square kilometres in the heart of Australia’s leading global city. Over the past decade the City has become the largest and fastest growing local government area in all of NSW. 

Critical to the livability of the City are more than 400 parks and open spaces covering an area of more than 188 hectares. These parks range from large, iconic and historic Hyde Park, with its beginnings in the early 19th century, to large and small parks and water features in the inner city, on the harbourside, in local neighbourhoods and on new communities on redeveloped industrial sites. The CoS is also responsible for ovals and playing fields including Alexandria, Redfern, Wentworth and Waterloo. Most of these parks incorporate stormwater harvesting, field and garden irrigation, and lighting for evening sports practice and matches.

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Over many years the City had installed a range of systems to control and monitor irrigation of parks and gardens, stormwater harvesting and park lighting. Many systems were very manual in nature, and even the automated systems such as irrigation controllers required cumbersome control by SMS or on-site, “hands-on” intervention for any variation such as, for example, pausing scheduled sprinklers after a rain event or tweaking the watering schedule for a cricket pitch.

In 2016 the City released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for WALTRS (Water And Lighting Tool and Reporting System) -- a Centralised Monitoring and Control system for monitoring of water harvesting, monitoring and control of irrigation in parks and gardens, and control of sports-field lighting. At the core of the requested system was centralised visibility and control of park assets - automated where possible, but flexible enough to be managed remotely on mobile devices or desktop computers. A key outcome was management and reporting of sustainability goals such as limiting water usage and unnecessary field lighting.

The task was awarded to iTech Corporation (iTech), an experienced technology specialist in the industrial and infrastructure sector with a long history of electrical systems engineering, automation design and project management. Historically iTech had used Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems for similar projects, but the high cost of installing, programming and maintaining these systems led iTech to find another way to add control and monitoring more quickly and cost-effectively.

iTech partnered with Pervasive Telemetry, which specialises in small/medium remote monitoring, control and telemetry solutions in the form of the AgentG2+: a versatile device for monitoring and control, pre-integrated over a secure cellular network with a centralised cloud-based  Managed Service. This provides continuous, real-time monitoring and control of remote assets and infrastructure .

The pre-integrated Agents were quickly connected to existing infrastructure such as irrigation controllers and solenoids, lighting switches, flow meters for water harvesting and public water supply, and electricity meters for lighting. 

Using a web browser or, most commonly, a web-capable mobile phone, the system provides simple smartphone-based status visibility, schedule creation, automated or manual control of irrigation and lighting assets and centralised water and electricity usage reports. With a few taps or clicks a park manager can temporarily override scheduled irrigation for a whole park, a zone or even a single sprinkler line. Relevant staff or contractors are automatically notified when out-of-range situations, security breaches or equipment failures occur. Park lighting schedules are automatically created from the City’s booking system when a sports team books their regular evening practice. 

The Agent is built using technologies more accessible and flexible than the proprietary technologies used by traditional SCADA providers. All permissioned staff have live and historical telemetry, status visibility  and control in the field or back at base, using a range of devices from computers to tablets and mobile phones with no need for per-seat licenses or proprietary software/hardware.

City of Sydney’s partnership with iTech’s engineering and field force, and Pervasive Telemetry’s Agents and managed service platform, has resulted in the successful automation and ongoing management of more than 35 parks, gardens and water features, with more sites under planning and installation. 

At a park level staff have unprecedented status visibility, control and flexibility in providing residents with world-class green spaces, while the City has city-wide visibility of precious water and electricity utilisation for sustainability reporting and critical planning for the future.