Smart cities
Smart cities tech often ignores the human element. Photo – Canva.
  • Smart cities technologies are all the rage, but have the public been consulted?
  • A new project in Melbourne aims to do just that, with Council and Monash involved
  • Locals will be able to engage with various technologies, and provide feedback

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in cities are already monitoring the weather, understanding pedestrian foot traffic and deciding when bins need to be emptied, but how do residents understand and interact with these technologies, if at all?

A recent project between the City of Melbourne and the Emerging Technologies Research Lab (ETLab) at Monash University is looking at the experiences and perspectives of emerging technologies in and around Melbourne’s CBD, to better plan for ‘inclusive future cities’.

Technology is moving on apace. Artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and 5G are just some around at the moment. Despite the benefits they can offer, they can be deployed without due consultation with local residents.

“This is an important initiative to provide a community lens on emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the way we run the city for the benefit of all Melburnians,” said Councillor Le Liu at the City of Melbourne.

The team of researchers from the ETLab, will employ a three-pronged approach that focuses on awareness, perception and partnership.

“By helping the City of Melbourne engage with the local community early in the process of testing new smart technologies and planning the future city strategy, this project will contribute important insights into how people perceive, value, and use emerging technologies in the urban environment.”

Professor Sarah Pink, Chief Investigator and Director of the ETLab

Professor Sarah Pink
Professor Sarah Pink. Photo – LinkedIn.

The second phase of the project will extend upon this research and launch a live activation in Argyle Square as part of Melbourne Knowledge Week (26 April – 2 May).

Locals will be able to interact with each emerging technology by scanning QR codes dotted throughout Argyle Square that explain the role of each technology.

By providing their feedback and interacting with the technology, members of the community are able to take part in the live experiment and play a vital role in shaping their city.

“This partnership employs a transparent approach to data collection, which is also why it was so important for us to include the local community and invite them to take part in our live experiment,” said Professor Pink.

The findings and information gathered from this partnership between the City of Melbourne and the ETLab have the ability to be replicated in other urban spaces and major cities.

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