Newcastle City Council’s smart city strategy has taken another step forward with $5million in federal funding to help deploy digital technology to make life easier in our rapidly growing city.
Friday’s announcement by the Assistant Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor, doubles as endorsement of Newcastle’s transformation into a smart, liveable and sustainable city underpinned by a diversified services-led knowledge economy. The funding will partly finance Smart Move Newcastle, a project to make it easier to move around the city and run it more efficiently. It will see digital technology installed in vehicles and infrastructure to deliver a convenient multi-modal transport system and generate productivity and energy-efficiency gains.
With help from key city partners, such as transport operator Keolis Downer, digitally linked data sensors will provide insights to run the city and businesses more efficiently. This will include the use of data to better connect the future light rail with other modes of transport and ensure emergency service vehicles get green lights. Other applications include smart phone apps that update commuters in real-time on when their bus is due and guide drivers to vacant parking spaces.
Next year we’ll start seeing exciting projects. Autonomous vehicle trials, an electric bike share network powered by renewables, on-demand buses, apps and data dashboards will all make travel and life in the city easier.
With industry, researchers and start-ups on board, Smart Move Newcastle will pre-empt the problems posed by further development in Newcastle’s city centre, which is on a narrow peninsula. This collaboration will help attract more investment.
The latest funding coup for the city follows great progress by council and smart city partners across the Hunter, including the University of Newcastle, Eighteen04, CSIRO and RDA Hunter, the other key partners in Smart Move Newcastle.
We are installing the infrastructure backbone of the smart city vision, including WiFi, smart lighting and environmental sensors around the CBD.
The University of Newcastle has expanded its regional network of innovation spaces to include its Williamtown defence/aerospace arm and its flagship city campus Innovation Hub will soon be a reality.
Smart city and clean tech incubator Eighteen04 are opening a facility in Newcastle West together with NSW TAFE, which recently announced its first centre of advanced manufacturing, mechatronics and robotics would be housed in in its Newcastle campus.
The transformation is attracting widespread national and international attention via United Nations agencies. In the past two years Newcastle has been anointed a UN City and featured in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation & Development’s yearbook.
Assistant Minister Taylor congratulated the city for leading the charge among the 52 successful applicants – from 176 – under the Smart Cities and Suburbs funding program.
Following the NSW government’s investment last year in the city’s smart city infrastructure through the Hunter Innovation Project, federal support means all levels of government have bought into our smart city vision.
By awarding this funding, the Australian government believes the big ideas developed here will be relevant to other cities around Australia and the world.
Nuatali Nelmes is the Lord Mayor of Newcastle
This article originally appeared in The Newcastle Herald on November 18, 2017. Click here for original article