Australia's cities are transforming. Research from KPMG indicates that 80 per cent of participants at their recent smart cities event (which Duncan Solutions contributed to) had begun developing plans to improve the intelligence of their cities' infrastructure.
This includes a promising one-quarter of respondents who were already managing pilot projects, or had implemented smart tech in their cities and communities. Projects include citywide WiFi, digital wayfinding and, of course, advancements in parking management. Technology has the capacity to improve everyone's lives – today we're going to look at three ways that will happen in 2018.
1) Automation in parking
Parking is a big priority for the evolving smart city. KPMG's survey ranked it as the fourth-highest priority for cities, behind WiFi, lighting and roads.
And with technology like Bluetooth devices, advanced parking sensors and integrated management systems proliferating throughout Australian cities, more and more civic bodies are discovering the cost and efficiency benefits of building smart parking. You can automate monitoring through the use of sensors, while an integrated back-end system means information can be transmitted from compliance teams to a centralised database (and then consumers) with the push of a button.
No more chalking cars, no more walking for hours and only identifying a handful of overstayers and more guidance and available spaces for consumers. Automation leads to increased efficiency and fairness, something we are excited to see a lot more of in Australia this year.
2) Environmental sensors
Sensors help smart cities in more than just parking. KPMG's research highlighted positive results from the City of Geelong recently, where new environmental sensors were placed in areas across their CBD.
These sensors were used to trigger lighting, wayfinding technology and even activate WiFi when someone was nearby. It's the kind of technology we traditionally associate with smart homes, which are configured to turn lights on or activate certain appliances based around our personal routines.
Environmental sensor technology can take this kind of tailored user experience out of the home and into the streets, making navigating a city easy.
3) Advanced street lighting
Street lights are more than a visual aid – they may well become the building block of a true Australian smart city.
A recent Gartner report noted that streetlamps can be the foundation for wide area network (WAN) systems, predicting that 10 per cent of smart cities will use the posts for this express purpose by 2020. The base level technology is already there – lamps have a small level of connectivity to measure power output and the status of the lighting.
Gartner's paper argues that building a WAN from street lighting provides the framework for better video systems, and means future smart city projects may not need their own WAN. You could say it's a WAN-WAN situation.
What do cities need to become smart?
These tech trends are exciting – they're a window into the future of what our cities can become. But at a civic level, there can be massive roadblocks to getting these projects off the ground – evidenced in the 39 per cent of respondents to KPMG who remain in strategy development, and the 20 per cent who haven't even started their smart city journey at all.
Problems can be budgetary, bureaucratic or simply due to a fear of the unknown. However, the building blocks for any smart city project are there. We would recommend:
- Using the Australian Smart Cities Council, established specifically to assist with such projects.
- Consult and work with companies well-versed in smart city technology, like Duncan Solutions (a contributor to KPMG's smart cities event).
- Engage your stakeholders. Build smart city strategies around what your constituents need, not just what technology is available.
Everywhere you look, there's an opportunity to adopt smart technology to improve quality of life. To make sure it's done right, especially around your parking management and wayfinding, talk to the team at Duncan Solutions.