Building the smart cities of tomorrow.

Sensors are already all around us. In our homes, our cars, our workplaces and our cities. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and changing the way humans interact with their environment. The Internet of Things connects everyday objects to the internet, sharing and sending data to make daily life easier. Smart Cities will connect infrastructure, people and vehicles to help us move around faster, communicate more effectively and interact with the built environment more seamlessly, making cities more dynamic, safe and liveable. 

At the heart of it all are smart sensors, and NSW universities are at the forefront of smart sensing research, exploring new frontiers in optical, chemical and in-line sensing to deliver next-generation sensors that are wireless, networked, smaller, cheaper and more sensitive.

Partnering with the NSSN, companies can access expertise and technology from across NSW’s leading universities and gain an enduring competitive advantage. Some of the exciting R&D projects already taking place throughout the network include:

The SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong leads a research program on big data, dedicated to helping governments and businesses plan for the future. Their Digital Living Lab uses sensors on the LoRaWAN network to collect real-time data on stormwater flows and landslides and map population movements to better inform council services. SMART are also applying their research expertise in a variety of other ways: from predictive tools to help health planners decide locations for future medical centres, right through to sensors that can remotely detect and advise a brewery when beer kegs across the city are running low! 

Researchers at the UTS Centre for Autonomous Systems are using cutting-edge field robotics to support the inspection and maintenance of core infrastructure, such as bridges, waterways and electricity networks. The use of robotics in infrastructure management can reduce the need for humans to engage in high-risk work. Their robots are already in use blasting grit from the Sydney Harbour Bridge in collaboration with NSW Roads & Maritime Services; and running through underground water and sewerage pipes to check for leaks and corrosion in collaboration with Sydney Water

Working with the NSSN simplifies the process of engaging with universities by creating a single point-of-contact for the leading research-intensive universities in NSW. 

Access to cutting-edge research equipment can be difficult to arrange without university partners, and with over 50 centres of excellence, collaborative research centres and industrial training centres spread across the NSSN, access to world-class equipment is readily available.  

Navigating the ever-changing built environment and infrastructure space is challenging, working with universities should not be.

With the support of the NSW Government, the NSSN is your one-stop shop for multi-disciplinary expertise and technology. 

To find out how the NSSN can help solve your challenges, please contact Zhitao Xiong at (02) 9351 6049 or


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Air Quality Sensing


The Challenge

In recent years, increasing numbers of motor vehicles and higher population densities have raised air quality concerns across the state. Due to sudden environmental changes, ozone concentrations in NSW recently increased beyond acceptable levels, creating health concerns for the local community. Ready access to accurate air quality data can help government and communities take action to prevent and mitigate air quality degradation.


The Solution

With funding from the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH), NSSN researchers at the University of Sydney (Ben Eggleton, Tomonori Hu and Alvaro Casas-Bedoya) developed low-cost optical particle sensors that use light to detect particles in the air.

Building on existing technologies, the team developed compact/portable sensors with a high degree of accuracy. Such sensors could be deployed in large arrays to provide more comprehensive information on air quality in real-time.   

Engineering, testing and validating this technology was carried out in labs at the University of Sydney and in the field in Sydney. 

The project is also drawing upon NSSN expertise in integrated photonics that enable nano-scale sensors. This innovative research will lead to further miniaturisation of sensors that will fit inside devices like smart phones, enabling citizens to measure local air quality and feed that information into a mass network of deployed air quality sensors.  


The Result

This collaboration gave the OEH and the University of Sydney a better understanding on how to interpret the data from low-cost sensors and has led to further collaboration. The objective of this ongoing work is to make further improvements to the sensitivity, environmental robustness and energy efficiency of the sensor. 

The project also feeds into the NSSN Living Lab - a comprehensive network of air quality sensors across the Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong regions, that draws upon the extensive resources and expertise of NSSN member universities.