Wednesday, 22 June 2022 12:44

NSW universities, industry, local governments tackle state’s air quality issue Featured

By Staff Writer
Matthew Riley, Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science NSW Department of Planning and Environment Matthew Riley, Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Leading members of NSW universities, industry and government have met at Western Sydney University to officially launch a project which is designed to create a best practice methodology for different air quality issues local governments face in different communities across NSW.

The launch of the Operational Network of Air Quality Impact Resources (OPENAIR) program took place as part of a two-day workshop convening project participants from the NSW Government, NSW-based small businesses, five universities and 13 local government councils.

Matthew Riley, Director of Climate and Atmospheric Science from the Department of Planning and Environment said the project would create a best practice methodology for different air quality issues local governments face in different communities across NSW.

“The primary objective is to develop informational resources that councils can use to solve their air quality issues. Eventually, this will result in an information hub enabling the data to be shared with the broader community.

“The Department is working with the participating LGAs and the researchers from across the NSSN member universities to implement low-cost sensors to provide additional localised air quality information to the public. We will also use the localised data collected under this program to supplement the data captured by the NSW air quality monitoring network.”

Professor Jason Prior from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures said the collaborative approach to the OPENAIR project is key to its success, commenting that “working with local councils and small businesses means that our research will consider their needs and experiences, ensuring that the resources we design will be truly useful to them.”

NSSN Co-Director Professor Benjamin Eggleton commended the project team noting the project demonstrates the value of collaboration between the universities, industry and government.

“The project is led by a multidisciplinary group of researchers from across the NSSN member universities, working together with councils and small businesses to develop repeatable best practices for using low-cost sensors to address various air quality issues, including bushfire smoke, coal dust monitoring and urban heat sensing.

“The project builds on the Network’s strong capability in air quality research, which has been built up since the early days of NSSN. We have seen a national shift in understanding the importance of air quality on health; with strong support from our university, government and industry partners, this project will make a significant inroad towards solving local air quality issues for each of the participating councils,” Professor Eggleton said.

OPENAIR is a $2.4 million air quality monitoring research and development program led by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in collaboration with the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) - and the program has received a $1.78 million contribution from NSW Government through the $45 million Smart Places Acceleration Program, which is part of the Digital Restart Fund.

Universities participating in the program are the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australian National University (ANU), University of Sydney, University of New South Wales (UNSW), and the University of Western Sydney.

And participating councils include Hawkesbury Council, Lake Macquarie Council, Muswellbrook Council, Newcastle City Council, Northern Beaches Council, Orange Council, Parramatta City Council, Ryde Council, Sunshine Coast Council, Sutherland Council, Tweed Council, Wollondilly Council and Wollongong Council.

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