Smart Cities

The Australian Government hosted a Smart Cities Roundtable on 12th October. Members of the Property Council of Australia attended the Roundtable along with other industry bodies, and stakeholders in the community.  

The Australian Government is establishing a competitive Smart Cities and Suburbs Program worth $50 million. The Program will support local governments to fast-track innovative technology solutions that improve long-standing urban problems.

Many planning and infrastructure representatives were in attendance such as Telstra, Department of Lands, PWC, Planning & Environment, construction related consultants, retailers and City of Palmerston executives and Mayor.

The aim of the Roundtable was to flush out innovative ideas that could improve the efficiency, sustainability of city services and infrastructure, safety and livability

When questioned on what issues could be improved, the participant feedback was almost identical to the CBD Summit being; amenity, safety, attraction, marketing etc

When you are contemplating technological overhauls or new initiative as these you are dealing with service and infrastructure providers such as Telstra, PWC and of course the CoD. It was imperative that such organisations were in attendance.

 A simple example of technology improving or value adding an area are the free Wifi areas that will attract say tourists to an area. If you are on the Darwin Esplanade near the Cenotaph you might have seen a bunch of people wandering around in circles with their phones, no it is not a zombie apocalypse, it is people playing Pokemon Go! Whenever I go there now there must be 20-30 people on their phones playing.

Another initiative was a CBD smart phone app endorsed by the CoD. This would form a crucial part of the whole marketing push that the CBD does. This app will guide users on public facilities, events, best places to go eat, drink, shop etc

The need for CCTV and safety were discussed at length and how to the use of a smartphone app to alert authorities of an emergency would be deployed. False alarms would be monitored by CCTV verification on the location of the alert.

Currently, the City of Darwin requires a 4 metre clearance height within a building so garbage collection vehicles can service a building to avoid kerb side collection. A more innovative solution could be determined to dodge such drastic impositions on a building’s frontage. This would improve amenity and activate the building frontage. It would be definitely worth looking into how other cities work with rubbish collection as there are many cities out there which don’t require this.

Water meter assemblies was another topic discussed, currently buildings require a zone of about 3 x 1m at the front so that Power Water Corporation can read the water meter. A substation requires 3x3m zone. Southern Capital Cities do not have such large assemblies. So what we are seeing is the interactive leading front of a building is mostly consumed by water pipes and garbage truck access?

Public-Private Partnerships was voiced strongly by the participants. This was another topic which was raised in the CBD Summit. If you incentivise a project for private owners or operators to fund or partly fund a public amenity or facility, then you can and will achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

We need to always be looking at reducing red tape. Making it easier for private sector to proceed with initiatives in efficient time and cost. The City of Darwin do hold significant control over signage and advertising or anything technologically interactive on buildings. We can look at ways to improve and utilize this opportunity.

Most importantly, even though the roundtables and summits are fantastic by way of achieving and revitalising, the community needs to be educated first in order to appreciate what is out there and what it can do.