Smart stuff: City adopts framework on using new technologies

April 1, 2021 BY

Cr Peter Murrihy, chair of the council's Innovative Solutions portfolio with Matthew Szymczak, senior lead for Smart City.

THE City of Greater Geelong council is turning on and plugging into technology to make life better for everyone in the municipality, with the council adopting the Smart City Strategic Framework.

A first for the Geelong region, the framework lays out how the council can capitalise on emerging technology, data and innovation to help improve community life, as well as manage sustainable growth and development in the region.

Initiatives include a plan to further refine and enhance the Geelong Data Exchange, with a focus on developing the 3D city model. The “digital twin” of the city is being used to spatially design and visualise new development, as well as giving the community an opportunity to be more involved in planning and urban design.

Geelong’s network of internet-connected things (IoT) will also expand to enable better management of assets and resources. Pedestrian sensors will help the city better understand foot traffic and the use of public spaces, soil sensors will enable better water management, climate sensors will provide localised weather data, and parking sensors will provide a detailed picture of parking behaviour and needs.

Work to lessen the digital divide will continue, including a plan to expand the free public WiFi network and a fast broadband trial with the rollout of an extra 49 Smart Nodes.

Cr Peter Murrihy, chair of the innovative solutions portfolio, successfully moved the motion to adopt the framework at the council’s meeting last month.

“This articulates a vision for how we use smart technology, data and innovation in this region – it’s not just a plan for the city, but for the whole region,” Cr Murrihy said.

“It is taking a people-first approach, putting our community members at the centre of our decisions.

“Technology will be used as an enabler only if it makes a meaningful difference to people’s lives. It will support a culture of innovation within our organisation and community, trialling new approaches and designing clever solutions for our city.

He said smart technology would help the city become more environmentally, financially and socially sustainable, shaping the way it plans for a growing population.

“There will be a focus on digital inclusion and literacy to ensure everyone has the necessary skills to participate and benefit from the digital technologies and tools,” Cr Murrihy said.

“We want to ensure we address data gaps and provide access to those who need it. This will allow our staff and community to make evidence-based decisions.

“The world is transforming right now, and cities that are well prepared have the opportunity to make the most of the rapid advances in technology that are taking place.”

Cr Bruce Harwood said there would be risks if the city did not consolidate its approach to technology.

“We see on a daily basis, we read it in the media – privacy issues, cyber security issues, data collection problems, surveillance and a lack of a regulatory framework – these are constant problems we see.

“So I think the current framework we’re putting in place and the work that we’re doing will stand us in good stead with the goal being a more liveable and sustainable city where we recognise and reduce our threats accordingly.”

For more information or to download the Smart City Strategic Framework, head to geelongaustralia.com.au/smartcity.

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