World’s first smart city research lab opens in Sydney
Credit: UNSW

World’s first smart city research lab opens in Sydney

City Analytics Lab will help promote information sharing and collaborative decision-making

What is claimed to be the world’s first lab for planning future cities has officially opened at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The new City Analytics Lab will support collaborative decision-making across agencies in a dedicated space for smart city planning and design. The aim is for the facility to enhance information-sharing among agencies responsible for planning and designing smarter, more ‘liveable’ future cities.

Housed within UNSW’s Built Environment faculty, the City Analytics Lab uses interactive technology, big data, visualisation, virtual reality, and a variety of different planning models to support an interdisciplinary approach to decision-making for city planning and policy-making.

The City Analytics Lab features an interactive collaboration space that gives policymakers, government officials, communities, and industry leaders the opportunity to explore the possible outcomes of planning decisions, on areas such as transportation, education, health, and justice. Meanwhile, the lab’s virtual and augmented reality technologies are there to provide realistic simulations.

Making smart cities more liveable

Australia’s minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher, opened the centre and said it had “important work to do” in making cities smarter and better for citizens.

Professor Christopher Pettit, chair of Urban Science at the Built Environment faculty, said that traditional technology, such as websites and file-sharing applications, typically cause silos between agencies that impede collaboration and group decision-making. “At the City Analytics Lab, digital artefacts in the form of data and models are easily viewed and shared in real-time,” he said.

“The Lab brings down the barriers for information sharing, engaging with data, models and simulations. This is a room that supports the multidisciplinary approach that is required when you are looking at cities.

“Cities are not run by one department, one agency, or one group. We are trying to get people working together on the same page,” he added.

Internet of Business says

One of the hallmarks of connected technologies is they don’t just bring devices, services, and data together, but also people in interdisciplinary, collaborative teams. This is one of several research initiatives – both people- and technology-based – that have been launched worldwide to explore smart cities’ potential this year, and we wish UNSW luck with this exciting project.