Australia making progress on its smart city development

18 December 2019 4 min. read

The smart city movement in Australia is entering a more actionable phase. According to a new report, an increasing number of local government and private bodies are now actively engaged in pilot projects, with most of these pilots focused on data analytics and science. 

The study, conducted by KPMG, is based on data collected in the Smart City Series, a set of surveys conducted across major Australian cities. Information was gathered from a variety for stakeholders in the smart city domain, ranging from different levels of government to industry leaders, academics and local communities.

Designed to gauge the progress of smart cities and the related technology across Australia, the reports provides valuable insights into priorities among the various stakeholders in the landscape. For instance, many are working on mobility solutions in light of the evolving mobility preferences among consumers across Australia.

Australia making progress on its smart city development

So called ‘new mobility’ – a market that will add billions to Australia’s economy in the years to come – includes developments such as autonomous vehicles (AVs), electric vehicles (EVs) as well as app-based transportation aggregators that facilitate ride sharing among other services. Most of these developments require considerable supporting infrastructure that is typical of a smart city.

Charging points for EVs and sensors for AVs are among the primary technological facets of a smart city. Investment in new infrastructure is, as a result, among the priorities for many involved in the smart city landscape, although a number of other key insights emerged from KPMG’s research.

Moving into action

In 2018, a number of organisations were in the middle of planning and strategising a variety of smart city projects. Only 11% of all respondents to KPMG’s survey last year had actually launched pilot projects to test out their technology. This year, a significantly larger portion has entered the actionable phase, at 21%.

Australia making progress on its smart city development

According to the researchers, the advent of the implementation phase has meant more involvement of local government bodies. More than one third of local government agencies across Australia’s major cities are currently engaged in pilots of some sort, which KPMG states “reflects the shift from talking about smart cities to making smart cities a reality.”

Delving into specifics of these projects, organisations are found to be investing in a variety of areas. As mentioned above, smart physical infrastructure is among the most prominent areas drawing investment, although the last year has seen a considerable spike in the popularity of ‘platforms.’

As explained by KPMG, “If communications networks are the nervous system of cities, platforms are the brain—collecting, integrating, analysing and transforming data into actionable insights.” In 2018, 14% of all planned projects had to do with platforms, a figure that has jumped to 19% this year.

Australia making progress on its smart city development

Platforms have become more of an attraction for a large part because as local government has become more involved, as they provide a comprehensive overview of consumer preferences and behaviour, allowing government bodies to deliver more efficient and accurate development planning.

Infrastructure remains the second most popular channel, while communications networks are also drawing substantial investments. Other areas include mobility, environmental, parking, lighting, WiFi and security.