Australian city commits to four-year smart city action plan

The City of Greater Geelong Council in Victoria, Australia, has adopted a smart city strategic framework to harness emerging technology in a bid to improve liveability for citizens.

The council has also endorsed the accompanying four-year action plan, which outlines activities and targets to achieve the objectives of the framework. It includes creating a digital twin of the city, which will provide the community with an opportunity to be more involved in planning and urban design.

Public exhibition

The draft framework and action plan were on public exhibition throughout December 2020 and January 2021, providing the community the opportunity to give feedback and help refine the documents.

Seven principles form the foundation of the framework and will be used to guide council’s decision-making and city operations and programmes. The seven principles were shaped by the community engagement process and are designed to remain stable in the face of changing and advancing technologies:People first

  • Inclusive and accessible
  • Evidence-based
  • Connection and value
  • Co-design and collaboration
  • Innovation and creativity
    Trust and transparency.

The framework emphasises 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.

This includes a plan to further refine and enhance the Geelong Data Exchange initiative, 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.

An Internet of Things (IoT) network will help the council to better manage its assets and resources. It said pedestrian sensors will be used to 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 behaviours and requirements.

Work to lessen the digital divide will also continue, including a plan to expand the free public wi-fi network and a fast broadband trial with the roll-out of an additional 49 smart nodes.

Ensuring all community members have the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to access and utilise digital services and tools will also be prioritised.

City of Greater Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said the framework provided a safe and transparent decision-making protocol for the city’s use of modern technology and data. She added: “Having this framework in place helps us to keep a balance between adopting progressive technology to improve our services while also ensuring the community feels totally safe and supported.

“The adoption of this framework marks a major step towards achieving our community’s 30-year clever and creative vision.”