How Smart is a Smart City

Queensland – The Smart State

For a long time now, there has been a lot of talk in Queensland, as being the Smart State.  Much to the amusement of our southern cousins, who have found great joy in pointing out just how backward we are in Queensland.  This is almost a bigger joke then Victoria having “the place to be” on their registration plates where we have seen a mass migration of Victorians to Queensland. 

It almost seems like politicians put their greatest fears on the registration plates of their state cars, to try and compensate for their greatest weakness.

So, my question to you is.  Is Queensland a smart state?  Does Queensland have the right to advertise this on our number plates or are they just trying to compensate for their greatest weakness?

What defines a Smart State

To answer this question, you would need to first clarify, what defines a smart state. What gives Queensland the right to this coveted declaration, above all other states in Australia, as being the “Smart State”. 

I would assume that if you claim that you are a smart state, then you must have smart cities.  

What makes a Smart City?

My next question then is, what is a smart city? A good question you say.

Hannah Williams, from Computerworld dated 10 September 2018,  said that;

“A smart city is the re-development of an area or city using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance the performance and quality of urban services such as energy, connectivity, transportation, utilities, and others.  A smart city is developed when ‘smart’ technologies are deployed to change the nature and economics of the surrounding infrastructure”

So, did you know that the Australian government has recently funded 52 smart cities projects with AU$28.5m? An Article by Corinne Reichert dated November 17, 2017 states that under round one of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the Australian government provided 52 projects across the nation with AU$28.5 million in shared funding.

The biggest winner under round one was the City of Darwin, which scored an AU$5 million grant in addition to its own AU$5 million co-contribution for the Switching on Darwin project.  The biggest winner in Queensland was Cairns Regional Council, which gained AU$827,894 for its Reducing Urban Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef project. 

The biggest contribution that the Australian government put towards the Queensland Smart State initiative was 2.9% of its total money allocation. Does this mean, that the Australian government thinks Queensland is smart enough? Perhaps, the amount of money allocated, makes it seem like it.

If we were to narrow in on areas that are claiming to take on the Smart State mantle, Sunshine Coast definitely, comes to mind.

An article was taken from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council states that on 8 December 2016, Sunshine Coast Council adopted the Smart City Implementation Program (SCIP). using information and communications technology to be installed at key locations across the region to improve quality of life, stimulate economic growth and ensure environmental sustainability throughout our region.

The article states that the Sunshine Coast Council believes that creating a Smart City has many benefits for ratepayers and the environment including:

  • reducing carbon emissions, traffic congestion, and energy use.
  • increasing safety.
  • attracting more investment and business, increasing employment opportunities and increasing local business competitiveness.
  • improved town planning and designing.
  • improving council services and reducing costs of service delivery costs – shorter waiting times, faster service and increased customer satisfaction.

The article states that the Smart City Framework (SCF) is a portfolio of 13 services. It was created in partnership with Telstra and Cisco and proposes to deploy smart city solutions in a staged manner in key locations including the Priority Development Area (PDA) of Maroochydore, the Oceanside Health Hub and Caloundra Central Business District.

Sunshine Coast Council believes that for the Sunshine Coast region, Smart City technologies provide real opportunities to build a stronger economy, develop a stronger and safer community, improve service delivery to residents, businesses and visitors.

Smart Cities like the Sunshine Coast need Fast Data

new international submarine cable contract has been agreed between Sunshine Coast Council in Australia and RTI Connectivity Pty (RTI-C). It will form the country’s fastest telecommunications connection to Asia and second fastest to the United States.

The JGA-S cable will connect to the SEA-US Cable System, a highly efficient Trans-Pacific cable which will forge connections between South-East Asia and the United States for more than 1.5 billion people.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said, “the Sunshine Coast Council was the first local government in Australia to secure an investment in an international submarine cable”. He added: “Without a doubt, this infrastructure investment will result in a significant point of difference for the Sunshine Coast. 

The investment of up to $35 million in the undersea cable connection from the Sunshine Coast to the JGA-S cable plus supporting land-based infrastructure is being jointly funded by the Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Government, with the project forecast to deliver up to 864 new jobs and stimulate $927 million in new investment in Queensland.

“The Sunshine Coast will provide the fastest, most affordable international connection point for Queensland and Australia to Asia, providing a significant step-change in Queensland’s attractiveness as an investment location.” Mayor Jamieson said.

Mayor Jamieson also said, “This initiative will bolster connectivity and reliability of these networks, and the services that rely on them, benefiting all Queenslanders”.

Living in a Smart City

But do we really need it, you ask?  What’s in it for me? You ask.  As population numbers rise, several countries see environmental, social and economic sustainability as a necessity to keep up with the growth. In fact, almost 200 countries say smart city technology is paramount to success.  Technologies are expected to help citizens make better and data-informed decisions. One benefit is that the inclusion of smart technologies has the potential to reduce fatalities and improve emergency response times. 

So, is Queensland a smart state?

I’m still not sure. Our Great Barrier Reef Program will be smarter with the AU$827,894 funding from the Australian Government.  The Sunshine Coast is certainly working towards becoming a Smart City.  Perhaps Queensland should continue to follow the advice that I was once given by a very wise man.  Fake it, till you make it.  So if Queensland continues to call itself the Smart State.  One day, maybe we will be the Smart State. 

So why does Buzz a Geek, care if Queensland is a Smart State? Where do we fit into the future plans for Smart Cities in Australia? I am glad you asked. Because you need to ask yourself.  With this increase in communication by the internet. As more and more of our life is based on technology. The question you must ask is. Are smart cities safe?

Safety and security are two of the main concerns in any city, and with the addition of digital technologies, the concern becomes greater. With the increasing risk of cyber-crime and data thefts and the overall adoption of several connected technologies comes with risks.

Cities need to integrate solutions that will provide strong authentication and ID management solutions to ensure a safe and secure urban environment. Residents and businesses in smart cities should be prepared to tackle any potential threats. 

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