As Australia’s population grows, urban areas will continue to experience challenges around congestion, liveability and demand for water, power, waste disposal and other public infrastructure. Smart city technologies are increasingly being used to address these issues, creating urban environments that are safer, more efficient, more sustainable and better connected.
Through technology, smart cities use data-driven insights to:
Stimulate economic activity
Inform urban planning
Improve the operational efficiency of urban environments
Better service and anticipate community needs
Allow communities to connect and collaborate for a better quality of life
Embracing the global shift towards urban innovation, in 2017 the Australian government launched a $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs program. As well as improving the liveability, productivity and sustainability of urban environments, this funding is helping to build a new pipeline of opportunities for sectors like construction to support the delivery of smart city projects.
Here we take a closer look at the types of smart city projects that are currently underway in Australia, and consider how the construction industry can adapt to the growing focus on projects like these.
To date, 82 smart city initiatives have shared in a total investment pool of close to $49million through the Smart Cities and Suburbs program. Here are some examples of subsidised projects that are helping to innovate Australia’s urban areas.
Intelligent mobility, energy and data
Newcastle City Council in NSW received almost $5 million in first-round funding to support Smart Move Newcastle: Intelligent Mobility, Energy and Data. This program incorporates laser-enabled roadside poles, solar and battery powered electric vehicle charging points, smart bus stops and smart parking facilities to deliver a citywide transport, energy and digital infrastructure network.
Smart strategic planning
Connectivity and collaboration are key in smart cities, which is why Byron Shire Council in NSW received $143,000 towards developing 3D mapping tools that directly engage local communities in complex urban planning processes. These tools use VR to help the community visualise and engage with planning decisions and help the council demonstrate the benefits of urban growth in regional and rural settings.
Quality of life through people and place
To make the city of Palmerston in the Northern Territory safer and more liveable, the council was awarded $1 million in federal funding to support the Place for People program. This initiative has since implemented smart lighting, parking, recycling and waste management technologies, smart facilities and amenities management, and environmental data to monitor and reduce the city’s environmental impact. CCTV and smart LED technologies also help to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in the city.
To create safe, connected and efficient urban environments, the Australian construction sector must understand the technologies and principles that support smart cities, and how they can be applied to the built environment. This will allow the construction sector to:
Reduce the carbon footprint of construction
Improve the sustainability of the built environment
Reduce community impact while construction work is undertaken
Enable better connectivity and collaboration across industry during design and build
Reduce building operating costs for design, build and operators
Work towards zero waste construction through more informed planning and design
Use big data to deliver on the growing desire to work smarter and innovate
Not all construction projects can incorporate smart city technologies or have wide-scale impact on the community. However, any new construction project that sources and contributes valuable data will ultimately enhance the urban environment to which it belongs.
To support Australia’s growing focus on smart cities, construction businesses should stay across collaborative and data-driven technologies, such as telemetry, digital twins and Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).
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