Smart Regional Spaces: Ready, Set, Go!

A partnership project between the Department of Regional NSW, University of Sydney and UNSW has launched today to help regional councils become ’smart spaces’ through custom-designed training, digital tools and strategy development support.

The $2.2 million initiative is aimed at including the smart cities movement - innovative projects that improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities and towns - into rural and regional NSW, to ensure regional communities can reap the benefits associated with ’smart place’ initiatives.

Underpinned by the NSW Government’s Smart Places Strategy , the project will upskill regional councils, connect them with industry experts and empower them to invest in new technology and data-driven solutions, appropriate for their region.

Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman said 91 regional councils in NSW could benefit: "This innovative partnership with regional councils, the University of Sydney and UNSW will see them connect with industry experts, empower investment in new technology and data-driven solutions to help address the substantial divide in digital inclusion between Australians living in rural and urban areas."

"Examples of smart place initiatives include smart street lighting, real-time bus schedules available on digital screens or through apps, using smart sensors to gather waste management data or smart sensors installed on parking spaces."

Smart technology solutions in transport, communications and energy efficiency are already a reality in metropolitan cites - we want to position rural and regional areas to take full advantage of the smart places movement by providing the tools, training and know-how to get them started.

The project will future-proof regional councils by helping them develop their own smart places strategy, which embraces new technology and data to improve livability and sustainability considerations in their region.

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said digital uplift and inclusion is a key pillar of the Smart Places Strategy, especially making sure regional communities can take advantage of emerging smart technology.

"In partnership with local councils, the Smart Places Acceleration Program continues to deliver smart technological capabilities to fix problems that people are facing every day," Mr Dominello said.

The multi-disciplinary project team from the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning - Professor Robyn Dowling , Associate Professor Nancy Marshall , Dr Sophia Maalsen , and Eshita Dutia - specialise in various aspects of the built environment, especially the relationship between people and place. They focus on ’smart cities’ through planning, landscape architecture, geography, architecture, engineering, education and environmental psychology.

is funded through the Digital Restart Fund, as part of the Smart Places Acceleration Program.

Five-year partnership agreement between NSW government and University aims to streamline collaboration on research opportunities and attract investment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in Australia’s regions. New research led by Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning highlights the regional centres most likely to benefit from new economic activity, and the potential improvement in urban congestion and housing affordability in capital cities.

The University of Sydney in collaboration with the University of Wollongong is conducting research into the ways smart technology is being used to operate cities, and its potential social, political and economic implications.

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