Creating smarter cities

By Lilia Guan

Population growth, ageing infrastructure and the need to reduce carbon usage created the tipping point for developing 'smarter cities'.

Australian cities are growing and that growth has placed pressure on the country’s resources and infrastructure.

In order for cities and regional area to ensure they remain desirable, competitive and sustainable places to live these areas will have to “plan smart growth strategies”.

At a roundtable discussion, on ‘smarter infrastructure for sustainable cities’, hosted by technology giant IBM, speakers looked at how cities needed to plan smart growth strategies to ensure they remain sustainable places to live.

IBM’s public sector expert, Catherine Caruana-McManus said governments at all levels must utilise the technology they had in order to create an infrastructure that had technology as its core.

“We see the definition of smarter infrastructure as the integration of physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure,” she said.

She said creating a healthy environment enables people to move around the city with ease and makes homes more cost effective.

“Current city and regional infrastructure has become constrained and we want to put our view forward on some significant opportunities for economic benefit in Australia.”

According to Ms Caruana-McManus, who worked in urban planning for councils prior to her current position at IBM, said current technology like GPS, RFID, the Internet and broadband were instrumental in creating sustainable roads, transport, electricity and irrigation systems.

“IBM commissioned a report on productivity in Australian cities and we found that 10 percent of commuters were lost in transmission because they were stuck in the grid,” she said.

“We also found that Melbourne wasted $50 billion per annum in water leakages and breakages.”

Ms Caruana-McManus said these sorts of issues can be addressed and start with urban planners looking into the connection between water, energy, carbon and transport and the economic benefits that can be derived from building an environmental framework around these industries.

“In the report commissioned by IBM we found the economical net benefits from connecting these industries amounted to $80 billion dollars and the creation of hundreds of jobs,” she said.

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