Geoff Gourley December 7, 2020

Exploring Smart Communities and Smart Business in 2021

As we approach 2021, our thoughts turn to creating more interconnected cities and spaces – spaces where liveability, workability and sustainability are enhanced using streams of data. Specifically, we want businesses, government, and councils to consider smarter, more technologically planned spaces. We call this approach ‘Smart Cities’.

Exploring Smart Communities and Smart Business in 2021

This forward-looking approach to city planning and community-building ranges from strategy and planning through to setting placemaking goals, embedding technology frameworks and tools, and exactly how we’re going to connect well to create this vision.

What is a ‘Smart City’?

A smart city collects information about itself through sensors, other devices and existing systems. The data is communicated using wired or wireless networks and then  analysed to understand what’s happening now and what’s likely to happen next.

Planning for Smart Cities

Becoming a smart community and city is a transformative pathway. The entire process could take anywhere from 5-15 years to achieve, so it’s important to have the right foundation at the start.When envisioning a Smart City it is essential to have a vision, a defined strategy, targets and objectives, and a roadmap of how you will move from an idea to action.

Whether a local Council, a business or Town Planner, the important part is to get the right people involved. To kick off your Smart Cities project, you could start with a collaborative workshop using design thinking. Or undertake community engagement, create surveys, open up public consultation, or develop a ‘launch pad’ program.

Once this vision is in place, there are a number of approaches and avenues to take to achieve that vision.

1: Building the right technology frameworks

To deliver on the shared vision of your planning, modern Smart Cities, buildings and businesses are not possible without a solid digital foundation. It’s essential in this stage to develop the right technology blueprint, program of works, and roadmap for integration.

The framework or ‘blueprint’ comprises a suite of shared infrastructure that supports all services. This includes:

  • Access technologies (eg sensors, cameras, mobile devices)
  • Pervasive high bandwidth network infrastructure (both mobile and fixed)
  • Cloud and edge computing; and Platforms that include IoT, Video and AI, as well as Open Data.

2. Consider  ‘Digital Twins’ (or data visualisation)

Data informs how our infrastructure is built, managed and decommissioned. Real-time data can inform how our infrastructure is operated on a second-to-second basis, which is best visualised using ‘Digital Twins’.

As Dr Adam Mowlam quoted in the recent Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand ‘Digital Twin Week’: “You can’t simply buy a Digital Twin; it must be created”.

Digital Twins harmonise data inputs with ‘real-time’ visualisations that enable better insights and decision-making. These Digital Twins must have five core capabilities: connection, integration, visualisation, analysis, and security.

As a technology, Digital Twins are emerging. They can be applied  across Smart communities and  Cities, rail, infrastructure, and the built environment.

3. Set sustainable placemaking goals

When planning for a Smart community and Smart City, engaging in placemaking is important to understand and meet the needs and desires of the local community.

Tools like Neighbourlytics or Place Score can be used at this point to gain valuable insights into local neighbourhoods.

Considering placemaking as part of your Smart Cities planning has a global context as well. Your outcomes can be mapped to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The SDGs  are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. Benchmarking the outcomes for your local community against this global standard will ensure that community benefit and impact is achieved and is measurable.

4. ConTech and PropTech

These are Construction Technology and Property Sector Technology Solutions.

PropTech includes any technology related to real estate and property management, either as software  (platforms or apps) or hardware (such as sensors or materials).

ConTech specifically relates to technology that transforms the construction and building sector, which may include engineering and architecture.

Construction is a massive sector – and one that appears to be growing every year. The way we build, rent, or manage our properties is transforming and there are a plethora of startups and innovative technologies emerging that provide solutions across all areas of this huge sector. It can be difficult to navigate and be across all the options available and identify what suits your needs the best.Specialist companies like Taronga Ventures have had great success in supporting emerging ventures in the sectors and their fund, backed by industry-heavyweights, continues to grow and deliver significant returns.

5. What about the connection?

During lockdown, and indeed well beyond, there is nothing worse than slow WiFi, frozen screens, or dropouts midway through a Zoom call.

While all your planning and goal-setting gets you on the right track, your Smart Cities project relies on one main thing:  a great connection. Without affordable, fast, reliable and secure connections, the data we need to share and access to operate smart communities and smart business just won’t be accessible. The recent Work From Home (WFH) shift has shown us all how important being digitally connected is.

Fibre, 4G & 5G and LoRaWAN are all types of connectivity working together to provide cities, neighbourhoods, businesses, homes, and individuals with digital connection.

As we add more sensors, beacons, CCTV, IoT and data, our transfer speeds, latency, and capacity become ever-more important.

460degrees’ depth of expertise in all types of connectivity, digital infrastructure and the associated planning, design, integration and implementation can be the first step  in your Smart Cities, Community or business journey.

If you have further interest in Smart Cities or wish to speak with one of our team about your smart community or smart business objectives, please contact our Client Director, Geoff Gourley.

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