NSW announces AU$45m program to accelerate smart places development

It also launched a QR code-based pilot program to track the supply chain of melons.

The NSW government has announced a new AU$45 million initiative, under its Smart Place Strategy, aimed at accelerating the development of smart places across the state. 

The initiative, called NSW Smart Places Acceleration Program, will see government provide AU$45 million over three years to councils and place-owners, such as government agencies, owners, councils or regional organisations, for the adoption of smart technologies and capabilities.

"We want to use technology to make life easier for people. Whether it's busting congestion or improving health outcomes, this funding is about strengthening communities," Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said.

"We are calling on expressions of interest and encourage all relevant councils and place-owners to bring forward ideas." 

Examples of smart technologies that would receive investment from the program include smart CCTVs for reducing crime and real-time meters for making water usage more efficient. 

According to Dominello, smart technologies that have already been accepted into the program include those focused on improving parking, water recycling, mobile coverage, and managing kerbside open space. 

To successfully access the Smart Places Acceleration Program, councils and NSW agencies need to demonstrate that they can meet and apply the foundational requirements established through the Smart Places Strategy.

Launched in August, the Smart Place Strategy envisions smart places -- which can be a street or neighbourhood, a local government area, or a region in either the city or region -- being embedded with sensors and communications technology in infrastructure and the natural environment; using sensors and technology solutions to capture, safely store, and make government-acquired data available; and communicating information and insights using the data to drive decisions.

In delivering the strategy, NSW government is concurrently developing a Data Protection Policy and Smart Places Customer Charter that will guide how data gathered by smart devices will be collected, managed, and stored.

Less than an hour prior to the smart places program announcement, the NSW government also said it has launched a national pilot program for tracking the supply chain of melons.

Using QR codes, melon-eaters in the state will now be able to view information on a melon's origin, freshness, and safety, which Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said would help prevent bacteria outbreaks.

"As a result of COVD-19, people have become more familiar with using QR codes, and now they will help industry deliver high-quality, traceable melons," Marshall said.

"Through a simple scan of your mobile phone, the program will connect consumers with growers, packers, exporters, regulators and retailers -- so you know every step of the journey your produce has been on, from paddock to plate.

"Two years ago there was a national listeriosis outbreak, which we hope to never see again, and solutions like this will keep industry experts ahead in the traceability game."

The state government has partnered with FreshChain, an Australian-owned and operated technology company, to deliver the pilot program. 

It is also calling for expressions of interest from horticultural businesses, including those who work with berries and leafy vegetables in addition to melons, to participate in the pilot for trialling traceability in the domestic and export market supply chains.

In November, the state government mandated that venues must electronically keep records, and suggested that they do this through the use of QR codes. 

The state also went live with its own QR code COVID-19 contact tracing scanner solution in September, which is integrated into the Service NSW app.

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