South Australian families, fitness fanatics and outdoor lovers can now track down their coolest local park or playground using real-time temperature data, in a new program from SA Water aimed at increasing liveability in the urban environment.
Together with 19 South Australians councils and South Australian technology company Fleet Space, more than 200 air temperature sensors installed at public spaces and playgrounds have demonstrated temperature differences of an average three to five degrees between green irrigated sites and non-irrigated spaces in the same suburb.
Available at sawater.com.au, the data forms colour coded maps that show how each park stacks up as a cool outdoor space to take the kids to play or maintain daily exercise goals, even when the mercury rises.
SA Water’s Manager of Environmental Opportunities Greg Ingleton said the initiative follows on from the utility’s industry-leading heat mitigation trial at Adelaide Airport demonstrating the ability to reduce the site’s ambient air temperature and overall plane performance by effectively watering nearby vegetation.
"Cooling occurs due to the evaporation of moisture from the soil and the transpiration of moist air from vegetation, and is something that can be easily maintained with a relatively small amount of water,” Greg said.
“By applying the smart irrigation principles we have developed with service provider SWAN Systems to maintain healthy lawns and vegetation at parks and playgrounds, we can easily show the positive impact on creating cool public spaces people can enjoy in hot temperatures.
“Hot weather usually drives most people to stay inside under the air conditioner, so having more green cool spaces available will encourage families to still be active outdoors and kick a footy in the local park that’s coolest in their neighbourhood.
“As well as community benefits, there are significant advantages for local councils needing to make cost-effective decisions about their irrigation practices, with more diverse and higher volume community activation driving increased value from the water already invested in maintaining green spaces like sporting ovals.
“Dry ground can be just as hot as bitumen and fake grass can be even hotter, so using water efficiently and in a cost-effective method can further reduce the creation of urban heat islands.”
SA Water is providing the data to councils to compare irrigation patterns to any temperature reductions achieved, and help make informed decisions on future park upgrades or investments.
From as far north as Willaston and Gawler down to Noarlunga in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, the trial sites are spread across metropolitan Adelaide, with more parks and reserves in regional areas to be monitored in the near future.
“The website also provides handy information about the features at each location to help people plan their visit, including whether it has popular facilities like drinking fountains, toilets, playgrounds, barbeques and picnic facilities,” Greg said.
“In time we hope to expand this program to regional areas of the state, and there will also be an opportunity for you to tell us where you’d like to see the sensors installed.”
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