Manly Council has become one of the early adopters of the Internet of Things (IoT), as a result of delivering parking and crowd control solutions that utilise Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning.
Using this Microsoft Azure Machine Learning technology, a number of parking areas in the Manly area are being targeted by CCTV cameras backed-up by special software in order to ensure prompt and proper policing of parking restrictions.
Beyond parking, the high-tech solution is even being considered for crowd control and future community safety measurements and even to predict the surf conditions.
Manly Council chief information officer, Nathan Rogers, said the council had a large number of smart and connected devices installed in the municipality, including four smart parking stations, 25 smart parking meters, 20 wireless access points and 100 CCTV cameras, all connected by 8km of fibre optic cable.
The idea to use machine learning to monitor car parks emerged after Rogers and his team had seen a viral video showing a technology called “How Old”, which predicts a person’s age through an uploaded photograph. This led to their curiosity if the use of artificial intelligence might assist Manly Council.
The IT team then wrote a program that downloads footage from the camera, passes it and uploads it to Azure Machine Learning.
“Azure Machine Learning has been previously trained on 10,000 ‘normal’ or ‘control’ images from the camera, so each time we upload an image it makes a judgement as to whether it’s normal or whether there’s some sort of anomaly.
“If Azure Machine Learning tells us there’s an anomaly, we have a script on our end that will email the right people so they can immediately go and check out what’s happening,” he said.
Rogers added that with Manly attracting eight million visitors each year, technology is vital in enabling the council to service both citizens and visitors.
“The Internet of Things is useful for initiatives like people counting, where we have software deployed that looks through our cameras and counts the number of people that walk by. This creates data that we can present to the Chamber of Commerce, people who are interested in starting a business in Manly and people who run big events in Manly like the Hurley Australian Open.
“We feel we’ve really only scratched the surface with this sort of technology and there’s a lot of opportunity to come. Cloud based technologies like Azure Machine Learning let a smaller council like Manly get access to high end computing resources, and the outcome of research and development without having to invest a lot up front,” he said.
Microsoft Australia IoT business group lead, Lee Hickin, said Manly Council’s experience was typical of some of the innovations that were being enabled through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“This is just the beginning of the massive impact that the IoT is going to usher in and a great example of the innovation possible. As Manly Council has shown, the possibilities that flow from leveraging machine learning and data from existing ‘things’ are transformational,” he added.
The technology is also used in mobility bays located beyond foot patrol distance of the CBD. In the future, there are plans for it to be used to provide a community safety tool with the ability to recognise crowds patterns and trigger public place management protocols and safety evacuation plans.