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Smart Engagement: Leveraging Technology for a More Inclusive Sydney

smart_engagementThe Committee for Sydney has published a new report entitled Smart Engagement: Leveraging Technology for a More Inclusive Sydney. This report focuses on one of the core building blocks of successful smart cities ‘“ effective citizen engagement. It also provides a diverse range of case studies in how smart engagement can work in Sydney, from using traditional methods to emerging, cutting-edge technology like augmented reality (AR) technologies.

This report focuses on one of the core building blocks of successful smart cities ‘“ effective citizen engagement. While new technologies and infrastructure allow deployment of shared data, smart sensors and automated services, the success of smart cities will be truly determined by the degree to which these technologies improve the lives of those living and working there. As noted in the report:

To improve peoples’ lives, we must understand the issues that impact them most. For Sydney to capitalise on the opportunity to be a smart city world leader, the people who live here need to be involved in the city’ s development from the ground up.

Why Smart Engagement

The Committee for Sydney strongly believes that involving people who will be impacted by a change will lead to better outcomes. While most current engagement practices tend to engage communities late in planning and policy-making, their goal is to seek participation at the point of creation.

Sydney’s demographic profile is significantly changing and smart engagement is understood as a respond to the engagement needs of people of different ages. In this context, ICT tools and data can be used in several new ways to engage citizens. They key is to leverage all the tools available, from traditional methods to those driven by new ICT, to deliver a spectrum of engagement with all citizens.

Smart Engagement in Practice

This report pulls together a range of case studies to highlight new ways of engaging with citizens that are emerging across Sydney. The described case studies illustrate the multiple ways to effectively bring the public into the city-making process. They range from using traditional methods to emerging, cutting-edge technology. Some of them are briefly presented below:

  • Ethos Urban: Ethos Urban is an urban solutions company that blends design, economics, engagement and planning. Tasked with raising awareness and engaging the wider community about the proposed Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney, Ethos Urban employed both traditional
    engagement tools and ICT tools. Social media platforms were   particularly effective at broadening the reach of key messages and providing timely feedback to the public.
  • Cox Architecture: A multidisciplinary Australian practice which integrates architecture, planning, urban design and interior design. Wanting to find a way to make building and planning information more
    publicly accessible and easy to understand, Cox Architecture teamed up with UNSW Built Environment to develop an app that shares information between the public, private and community sectors on urban issues.
  • City Futures Research Centre:The City Futures Research Centre at the University of New South Wales produces scholarly applied urban research. In collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information and other university partners, City Futures has developed the Envision Scenario Planner; a tool for planners and citizens alike to design, assess and communicate redevelopment options (see figure 1). It is currently being used to support an urban renewal project in Blacktown.
Figure 1. Envision Scenario Planner, a web-based 3D scenario planning and assessment tool for urban planning projects.

About Committee for Sydney

The Committee for Sydney is an independent think tank and champion for the whole of Sydney, providing thought leadership beyond the electoral cycle. Their main objective is the enhancement of the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that make Sydney a competitive and liveable global city.

Members of this Committee are major companies, universities, not-for-profits, strategically significant local governments and state government departments and key cultural, sporting and marketing bodies.

It represent no one sector or interest and focus on Sydney and the role it plays as Australia’ s global city. They seek to bring all parts of the city together so that Sydney can ‘˜collaborate to compete’ more effectively.

  • Download the whole report here.