November 01, 2017

The Growing Importance of Smart Cities

SMEC’s Dorte Ekelund, Principal Advisor Smart Cities, participated and presented at three conferences over a seven-day period, each with an appreciation of the growing importance of the Smart Cities agenda.

SMEC’s Dorte Ekelund, Principal Advisor Smart Cities, had a very busy October, participating and presenting at three conferences over a seven-day period: the 6th Annual GovInnovate Summit in Canberra, the Building Designers Association Australia Conference in Canberra, and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s (ISCA) Conference and Awards held in Melbourne.

While these organisations are all very different, they all have an appreciation of the growing importance of the Smart Cities agenda.

GovInnovate as the name implies focused on the services and infrastructure provided by governments. There were some really interesting presentations that reinforced how all-pervasive technology has become. The Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere – from being embedded in a new fridge to a cow being tracked for the providence of beef or milk. There can be 200,000 sensors on an oil platform, and while we might be familiar with the humble Fitbit which is an IoT device, the possibilities in the health sector are seemingly endless. Some examples closer to SMEC’s world included sensors embedded in parking bays, intelligent transport, autonomous vehicles and garbage bins with detectors to identify when they required emptying useful for capacity planning - and these bins can also be locked remotely if there is a fear of terrorism. One key take away of the conference, was Transport for NSW saying they have made much of their data open so the private sector can develop whatever apps they like – this includes transport apps for specific sectors such as people with specific needs or interests.

A speaker from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection discussed how they were using facial recognition technology and biometrics on smart phones - resulting in a verification process taking 60 seconds, when it previously took hours, this is definitely good news for the travelling public!

Along with Kevin Keith, Consult Australia’s ACT manager, Dorte participated in a Smart Cities panel where amongst other things, we explored the importance of accessing and managing data, and the role of data and technology in transforming the energy and transport sectors. It was also an opportunity to mention some of the new and exciting things we are doing with drones and Virtual Reality.

The Building Designers Association of Australia held their conference at the timeless Shine Dome, where Dorte presented on the opportunities provided by the Smart Cities agenda, and also participated on a panel on renewable energy and decarbonising the built environment.

Dorte also had the opportunity to attend the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) conference as an Independent Director of the Board of ISCA and a member of the Awards Judging Panel. ISCA is still a relatively young organisation set up by a group of engineers’ keen to promote the sustainable outcomes that infrastructure can deliver.

This conference gave like-minded people a platform to learn from each-other and celebrate the fantastic progress the sector is making in sustainability. Whilst there was a specific Smart Cities session, the importance of technology and innovation were referenced throughout the conference. Here is short video about the conference and ISCA, but more importantly about how we can all make a difference through our work in this sector.

A number SMEC employees are already ISCA accredited and a new Version 2 of the sustainability rating tool is due for release early next year.

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