Planning for smart cities – Code of Practice released

By LAURIE PATTON | 31 October 2018

“Enhanced telecommunications connectivity, data insights, digital planning practices and innovation districts” will underpin the creation of so-called ‘smart cities’. That’s the theme of a Code of Practice released this week as part of Smart Cities Week Australia.

Developed by leading smart cities advocacy group the Smart Cities Council and the Green Building Council of Australia the voluntary code is designed to shorten the ‘transformation’ cycle and is aimed at both government and industry players.

Its authors say it represents global best practice and will encourage more sustainable urban development outcomes. The code aims to influence outcomes across a broad spectrum of issues – including productivity, sustainability and liveability.

Productivity: by providing enabling infrastructure to support the jobs of the new economy – energy, connectivity, computing, essential services and more – and to compete globally for high quality jobs.

Sustainability: by providing services which help us tread lightly and enhance our relationship with the environment while recognising different cultural relationships without stealing from future generations.

Liveability: by creating environments which support people to be healthy, wealthy and happy. These environments encourage universal access, equitable participation and are supported by ubiquitous digital infrastructure which make services instantly and conveniently available anytime, anywhere.

According to Adam Beck, Executive Director of Smart Cities Council in Australia and New Zealand, the release of the code is an “important milestone after deep engagement with the development industry, technology companies, city shapers and all tiers of government”.

The Green Building Council Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew says “there was a strong synergy between the sustainable development outcomes articulated in the Green Star – Communities rating tool and the enabling opportunities from technology and data to enhance community outcomes”.

“This work will provide us with the opportunity to ensure smart cities principles are embedded in Green Star as the rating system evolves to meet industry and global trends, and continues to deliver environmental efficiencies, productivity gains and health and wellbeing outcomes in our buildings and communities”.

Place Design Group was a technical partner in the development of the Code. According to Chris Isles, Executive Director, Planning: “developing a single source for planners, developers, communities and governments as they shape our future cities and suburbs will ensure we capitalise on smart city opportunities.

Along with the need for a 21st Century National Broadband Network, the deployment of smart city solutions will go a long way towards dealing with the issue of population growth currently dominating public policy discussions in government and media circles.

As I have previously written, smart city thinking needs to be applied across the board, not just in our major capitals. Given the costs of continuing the urban sprawl, especially in Melbourne and Sydney, it might be timely to conduct an analysis of the respective costs of continuing to build homes and provide the associated infrastructure and utilities in outer areas of large capital cities compared with moving people to smaller centres.

The current smart city focus tends to be on large existing cities, but why not apply the principles to every community, large or small? With modern online communications we have the opportunity to encourage businesses and the people they employ to move to regional centres.

Gaining widespread understanding of smart city concepts will be key to the successful transformation of all our communities. It will require all three levels of government. Most of all, we will need to involve the people on whose behalf we are working. Combining smart city concepts with greater community engagement will help create towns and cities that are more liveable, more sustainable and more technologically empowered.

The Code for Smart Communities can be downloaded here.  An interactive version has also been released in the form of the Smart Cities Explorer created by Place Design Group. The explorer can be accessed here.

(Laurie Patton was CEO / Executive Director of Internet Australia from 2014 -2017 and worked briefly with the Australian Smart Communities Association. He is a former journalist and media executive, now working primarily in the NFP sector.)