Sydney is one of the top ten digital cities in a ranking of global cities measuring how cities are performing in relation to internet speed and strategies and policies for new technologies.
The inaugural Digital Cities Index (DCI) 2022 ranks 30 global cities across the four thematic pillars of connectivity, services, culture and sustainability.
The index combines quantitative and qualitative analysis, including a survey of 3,000 residents across all cities in the index.
Sydney was ranked seventh on the list and given an overall score of 72.6, scoring particularly well in the pillars of connectivity (78) and sustainability (78.6).
The top city on the list was Copenhagen, Denmark, with an overall score of (81.5), followed by Amsterdam, Netherlands (74.6) and Beijing, China (73.7).
“(There is a) tendency to be dazzled by impressive technology without a clear idea of the problem to be solved.”
Connectivity “precondition” for success
Reliable internet connectivity is a “precondition” for a city’s successful use of digital technology, according to the report.
“It provides the means for municipal authorities to work efficiently and effectively and can impact liveability for residents and businesses.”
Sydney was ranked fifth in this pillar, with the top spots taken out by Copenhagen (85.4) and Singapore (83.1).
The pillar assesses the infrastructural capability of a city to be digitally connected and whether citizens are able to afford to connect to the internet.
It looks at physical infrastructure, the quality of the infrastructure and its affordability.
Digital technologies can help reduce emissions and resource usage in transportation and the build environment, the report said.
This can be done through physical infrastructures to adjust weather conditions and detect water, all of which require sensors, the Internet of Things and analytics capabilities.
“Some cities are making innovative use of data such as social media posts to track the progression and impact of floods and earthquakes,” the report said.
“While microsensors are pinpointing urban “heat islands” where temperatures are higher due to the presence of heat-trapping materials like glass and concrete.”
Sydney was ranked eighth in this pillar, with Copenhagen topping the list again with a score of 92.6, followed by Seoul (92.1).
“It’s about knowing what the problem is you’re trying to solve and then using technology to fit that problem, not coming with a defined technology and then looking for a problem to solve it with,” he said in the report.” – Simon Hunter, Chief Transport Planner for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
“Top down and technology driven”
The first decades of “smart city” initiatives have attempted to improve urban services and quality of life, but these initiatives have mostly been “top-down and technology driven and have lacked engagement and participation from citizens”, according to the report.
“Experts believe that the smart city agenda has become more nuanced, from an early phase of top-down technocracy.
“(There is a) tendency to be dazzled by impressive technology without a clear idea of the problem to be solved or the unanticipated consequences of deployment.
“(And there is now a move) to a new era in which all urban technology decisions are taken as part of a dialogue with urban constituents—citizens and businesses.”
Simon Hunter, Chief Transport Planner for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, believes its important for cities to have a clearer focus on policy goals.
“It’s about knowing what the problem is you’re trying to solve and then using technology to fit that problem, not coming with a defined technology and then looking for a problem to solve it with,” he said in the report.
“(Cities should focus on the) problems of their community, and on understanding what technologies are there and how they apply, so you don’t get sucked into buying something shiny rather than something useful.”
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