The Rise of the South Australian Smart City

Smart cities’ is the often-heard term used to describe the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to transform social, cultural and urban development. The Smart city concept has evolved from the initial technology focus and has broadened to include the citizen and environment.

Despite Australia’s international ‘in the saddle’ reputation, we are one of the most urbanised countries in the world. Our cities face an array of economic, demographic and environmental challenges, however. Australia is at a crossroad as it chooses a path away from the mining investment boom towards a sustainable and globally efficient economy. The Federal government has recognised the need to support initiatives to develop a knowledge-based economy and the urban environment’s part in that new economy

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To illustrate this, bold plans are presently under way to roll out a 10Gbps fibre optic network in South Australia under a project conceived by the City of Adelaide to establish itself as a major business hub. Given the name ‘Gig City’, the project will provide fast and affordable gigabit internet access for start-ups, entrepreneurs and big businesses in Adelaide.

The new network will connect key innovation precincts and co-working spaces across Adelaide with affordable gigabit-speed internet that is promoted as 100-times faster than the national average. The project is the first of its kind in Australia and represents a bold new vision for South Australia, and with other such smart city projects coming to life across the country it clearly heralds the rise of the Australian Smart City. The new project is expected to be rolled out during the early part of 2018.

smart city brochure

But it’s not just about fast and cheaper internet, although this is a good place to start. Efficient buildings and public lighting; access to clean energy and water supplies; efficient transport networks; a sense of safety and security – these are the prerequisites modern cities must fulfill to stay competitive and provide a decent quality of life for its citizens. These are the aspirations of cities and towns across our nation, and the ‘hot button topics’ for governments and councils as Australian cities look to compete as major attractions for tourism, for business and community living.

Cities are starting to consider the development of their smart city in a more strategic way. Australia’s first smart airport city is being developed in Sydney and Australia’s first 5G city will be in Adelaide. These are examples of how Australian Smart city programme managers, urban planners, government decision makers, and utilities and telecommunications planners are combining efforts to fulfill the smart city vision.

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