NSW government launches new strategy to build smart tech into future infrastructure

A Data Protection Policy is also being developed to guide how data gathered by smart devices will be collected, managed, and stored.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
smart city in urban
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The New South Wales government has launched its Smart Places Strategy and Smart Infrastructure Policy, which outlines how it plans to build sensors and technology into infrastructure and buildings.

Under the strategy, the government hopes to see all smart places be embedded with sensors and communications technology in infrastructure and the natural environment; see sensors and technology solutions be used to capture, safely store, and make government-acquired data available; and be able to communicate information and insights using the data to drive decisions.

Some of the specific technology the state government hopes to deliver includes dedicated communications networks; smart CCTV, smart lighting, predictive analytics, and push to talk emergency systems to reduce crime; smart metres to help residents track water and energy usage; smart traffic signalling and real-time route planning to reduce traffic congestion; sensors to monitor air quality to help reduce hospital admissions; and digital models to improve construction planning and reduce costs. 

According to the strategy, smart places can be a street or neighbourhood, a local government area, or a region in either the city or region.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello boasted how building smart tech into infrastructure and buildings will create jobs, enhance security, improve quality of life, reduce environmental impacts, and promote data sharing.

"Whether it's easing cost of living pressure for households, busting congestion or improving health outcomes for communities, technology is the new weapon in our arsenal," he said.

"Data and precision modelling is just as important as bricks and mortar. Information is power and technology should be embedded in every major infrastructure project.

"Similar strategies have worked effectively in other global centres including Dublin, Barcelona, and Boston. We cannot be spectators on the sidelines -- we must lead in this arena."

The government said in delivering the strategy, it is currently 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.

To be delivered within the next 12 months, the Data Protection Policy will be in addition to the NSW Privacy and Personal Protection Act 1998 that protects private information.

"Everyone involved in deploying and managing smart solutions needs to actively manage networks and data to ensure they are safe and secure, and privacy is protected," the state government stated.

"The NSW government is committed to making sure safeguards are in place at all times covering the data being collected, how it is being used, who is able to access the data and how it is being protected."

See also: Citizen data compromised as Service NSW falls victim to phishing attack  

Other standards and policies that the state government will be developing to support the creation of smart places include "data as an asset" guidelines to support agencies making investment decisions to turn administrative data sets into machine-readable data sets; a guide to assist place owners and precinct planners design smart places; and a standards approach to promote safe, secure, and competitive technology solutions. These are expected to be completed in the next 18 months.

Partnering with industry and startups, and establishing new funding models, such as the Smart Places Acceleration Fund to support local governments and place owners in developing smart places, are also part of the NSW government's smart places agenda.

The state government also highlighted how one of the key initiatives under its smart places strategy will be the Western Sydney City Deal, a 20-year agreement that has been sealed by all levels of government to create the state's first smart city.

Read more: 5G will bring smart cities to life in unexpected ways (TechRepublic)

The strategies are in addition to the state government's launch of the Spatial Digital Twin earlier this year. At the time, Dominello described how technology would transform urban planning and infrastructure across Western Sydney.

Delivered in partnership with CSIRO's Data61, the NSW Spatial Digital Twin is expected to provide 3D and 4D digital spatial data and models of the built and natural environments.

The Spatial Digital Twin will initially cover the councils of Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith, and Wollondilly.

The interactive tool includes 22 million trees with height and canopy attributes, almost 20,000km of 3D roads, and 7,000 3D strata plans and 546,206 buildings.

Additionally, the NSW government had also set aside AU$240 million to bolster its cybersecurity capability, including investments towards protecting existing systems, deploying new technologies, and increasing the cyber workforce.

Earlier this week, the NSW government's data portal, Data.NSW, was given a refresh to enable users, including government staff, members of the public, and private businesses, to easily search for data on the platform.

"The redesign has focused on the portal's home page, information architecture and the overall look and feel for users, supporting data-driven decision making and delivering better outcomes for the people of NSW," NSW Department of Customer Service Secretary Emma Hogan said.

"By making this information more accessible and easier to navigate, we're putting the customer experience at the centre of the accessing important data."

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