With the number of ‘smart city’ projects being piloted in Australian cities and towns on the rise, Standards Australia recently released a new roadmap to help prepare for a more connected future.
According to the Smart Cities Standards Roadmap, a smart city is “a city’s goals enabled by data and technology”.
Ultimately, the report states, these goals relate to “improving the lives of citizens. In the context of Australian cities [including suburbs, towns and regional communities], they may include sustainability, resilience, liveability, productivity and workability”.
Thus, smart city projects can include the digital transformation of paper-based processes, as well as various ‘smart’ projects such as smart bins, smart waste and smart mobility.
In 2019, 21 per cent of local governments in Australia piloted smart city projects, according to a report from KPMG. This was up from eight per cent the previous year.
The projects include everything from a flood warning system to smart parking sensors and driverless trains.
For example, in Logan, Queensland, the Flooded Roads Smart Warning System (FRSWS) uses smart technology to keep the community safe during floods. By installing FRSWS signs at 21 sites, Logan City can provide drivers with advanced warning of flooded roads, and give real-time information to emergency services.
Meanwhile in Sydney’s beachside suburb of Coogee, Randwick City Council is trialling smart parking technology that will let drivers know how many spots are available in the area.
The project, which began earlier this month, uses a combination of cameras and in-ground sensors to keep track of parking availability. Drivers can access this information through LED smart signs, located outside car parks, or use an app to see if there are high, medium or low numbers of spaces.
Decreasing the amount of time people spend searching for parking spaces, and thus the amount of congestion on popular roads, was the aim of the trial, according to Randwick Mayor Danny Said.
“Smart parking is designed to save time, frustration and fuel, and will increase road safety because drivers won’t be distracted while looking for a place to park,” he said.
“We’re keen to see how well this new system works over the next few months and, if successful, we plan to roll the technology out to even more areas within Randwick City.”
Through 11 recommendations, Standards Australia’s roadmap aims to facilitate projects like these, by identifying critical issues that will support the growth of smart cities, and providing foresight in developing international and national smart cities standards.
It was important to develop a set of “clear and actionable recommendations” to help Australia develop safe, sustainable and resilient communities, said Standards Australia CEO Adrian O’Connell.
“Cities and communities will continue to become more digitalised, and Standards Australia intends to provide support to industry, government and communities in capitalising on these opportunities,” he said.
Recommendations in the roadmap include improving knowledge sharing and cybersecurity by setting up advisory groups and developing an Australian Smart Cities Assurance Framework.
Governance standards to measure the effectiveness of proposed strategies, and plans implemented by local and federal governments, were also recommended.
“Most of the recommendations centre on Australia participating in international standards development, to assist in shaping the development of the guidance,” Dr Ian Oppermann FIEAust, NSW Government Chief Data Scientist and Committee Chair of the Smart Cities Reference Group, told create.
“We have already initiated Australia’s participation through the establishment of Australian mirror committees such as IT-268 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Working Group for Digital Twins.
“We will also establish the Smart Cities Advisory Group to oversee and monitor the implementation of the Roadmap. This advisory group will bring together all three layers of government as well as research, industry and peak bodies to keep developing the standards.”
According to Oppermann, the response to the Roadmap has been positive so far.
“[For example] the NSW Smart Places strategy includes specific references to …[these] standards,” he said.
And engineers play an important role in the development of smart cities, he said.
“Smart Cities impact every aspect of a city’s operation and life — including assets, processes and operations — which makes it a broad and complex area to develop standards,” Opperman said.
“We need engineers to provide input and expertise to help us understand how different systems in a smart city can be integrated so that the information from one system flows seamlessly to another.”
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