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Credit: University of Sydney

Credit: University of Sydney

University of Sydney research project to capture citizen inputs in developing smart cities

An announcement made by the University of Sydney highlighted the importance of being able to capture the opinions of the citizens regarding urban issues in order to understand their needs. The University’s Smart Urbanism Lab will develop new algorithms and tools to capture this information in order to improve decision-making.

An innovative research being conducted by the University of Sydney will be able to capture and use trending topics to inform policy making through the federal government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

Participatory Local Government: Enabling Community Participation for Logan and Canada Bay is a new research project in developing smart cities being done by the School of Architecture, Design and Planning’s Smart Urbanism Lab with support from the Australian Government through the Smart Cities and Suburbs program.

Undoubtedly, social media has changed the way we engage in all aspects of our lives. We are more connected and have greater engagement with urban issues. Because of this, governments need new and advanced means to understand the needs of its citizens.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said, “The program reflects our commitment to research excellence and strategy of engaging in opportunities raised through technological advancements.”

The Smart Urbanism Lab at the University of Sydney identified the need for a human-centred design approach when planning built environments. Online channels are being used by the citizens to engage on urban topics, which are more often widely spread, unstructured and may contain irrelevant noise.

Government and industry have no way of accessing and analysing these conversations as of current.

Smart Urbanism Lab’s project will develop new algorithms and tools to capture this information. Inputs from locals regarding urban development will be captured by local councils and use these online opinions to improve decision-making.

Ultimately the research could be implemented across Australia to improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of urban areas.

Dr Spence shared, “We are grateful to receive this grant supporting research that plays an important role in the forward-thinking of those at the intersection of community, industry and government. The program reflects our commitment to research excellence and strategy of engaging in opportunities raised through technological advancements.”

The project aimed to increase community involvement in the planning and evaluation of major projects in the cities of Logan in Queensland and Canada Bay in Sydney, according to Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, the Hon. Paul Fletcher.

He said, “This project will provide real-time analysis of local attitudes towards major urban projects through a user- friendly platform that will help local governments keep across issues and prioritise their efforts.”

Four planning projects within two council areas will be the focus of the research. Research in the City of Canada Bay will examine feedback around the transformation of Parramatta Road, with a second initiative informing the Five Dock revitalisation. 

Research in Logan City will examine feedback around the master planning for Cronulla Park and also examine feedback on the Yarrabilba community development.

The University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning Director of Urban Design Dr Tooran Alizadeh said, “We are excited to be partnering with the City of Canada Bay and Logan City Council for this project.”

She added, “Forward thinking, engaged Local Government is vital to ensuring citizens are part of smart urban decision-making processes.”

City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said, “This project, aiming to enhance community participation in the planning and evaluation of major urban projects, is good news for the residents of our City.”

He added, “Social media and online communication has changed the way citizens engage in all aspects of their lives, from shopping and education to how their communities are being planned and developed.”

Important relationships between the research community, industry and government are being built by projects like these through the use of smart tools and technologies.

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