City of Melbourne to engage residents in smart city build

City of Melbourne is calling for resident input as to how sensors can be used in the city.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

City of Melbourne and the Emerging Technologies Research Lab (ETLab) at Monash University have commenced a project to improve the way smart cities are being built, by involving resident input.

Under the project, a live activation has been launched in Melbourne's Argyle Square that enables residents to interact with various sensor technologies that have been installed throughout. These sensors can detect and collect data about microclimates, pedestrian activity, rubbish bin levels, air quality, and park activity, among other things.

Residents are also able to scan QR codes that explain each technology and allow them to provide feedback once they have interacted.

"By helping the City of Melbourne engage with the local community early in the process of testing new smart technologies and planning the future city strategy, this project will contribute important insights into how people perceive, value, and use emerging technologies in the urban environment," ETLab director and chief investigator Sarah Pink said.

"This partnership employs a transparent approach to data collection, which is also why it was so important for us to include the local community and invite them to take part in our live experiment," she added.

Melbourne is also set to benefit from its first dedicated traffic congestion management team.

The team will be made up of six traffic managers. They will be responsible for responding in real-time to bottlenecks, incidents, and breakdowns in three of Melbourne's traffic hot spots, as well as identifying where "small scale" changes to improve traffic flow, such as extending turn lanes or blocking through-lanes.

They will be equipped with access to 500 traffic monitoring cameras and almost 200 wireless traffic sensors, the state government said, adding that a further 200 cameras will be installed by the end of June.

The new team will be established and funded by the state government's AU$340 million roads package. Announced last June, the package was designed to make it "easier for people and goods to get around Melbourne with better technology, more specialist staff and stronger enforcement of clearways".

Over in neighbouring New South Wales, the state government has announced it will hand out more than AU$15 million to 19 local councils to help with revamping their high streets under its Your High Street program.

Each council project is set to be handed AU$1 million. One of those councils include Parramatta, which will use the funding to upgrade Philip Street into a "smart" street, by introducing condition-responsive lighting, street furniture with built-in USB ports, and smart irrigation, alongside public artwork and lighting.

The other councils in the state that are set receive funding include Ballina, Gilgandra, Shoalhaven, Maitland, Parkes, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Hay, Tweed Shire, Moree Plains and Newcastle, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Randwick, Inner West, Hornsby, and Penrith.

Meanwhile over in Western Australia, emerging entrepreneurs will have access to a new workspace following the opening of the Albany Innovation iHub.

The centre will give entrepreneurs all of ages -- from local school students to business owners -- access to mentors, technology, and other support to help grow their startups.  

On the startup front, a further 12 entrepreneurs have been handed a total of AU$8.4 million in grant funding under the latest round of the federal government's Accelerating Commercialisation grant program.

The Accelerating Commercialisation service has been operating since 2014 and was designed to support the growth of local startups. In that time, more than AU$259 million has been awarded through 531 grants, according to federal government.

Recipients include Anditi, a data company that is using AI to improve road safety; BlockTexx, a clean technology firmed focussed on recycling textile; and VetDB, which has built an online veterinary platform to manage medical data.

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