Sunshine Coast Council hosted the inaugural Australian Smart Communities Summit in Caloundra. The fact that the event happened there is a reflection of the commitment that this council has to the development of a smart city.
One of the most critical elements here is leadership, and both the mayor and the CEO are passionate about this development and are leading the process from the top. This also results in a holistic approach and, where possible, developments are aligned to create synergy, cost savings and a better outcome. For this purpose they are blending smart city developments into their urban improvements or other infrastructure builds, rather than putting additional pressure on ratepayers.
At the opening of the conference the Mayor of the Sunshine Coast Council, Mark Jamieson, provided a passionate overview of the developments so far. He mentioned that at an early stage council recognised the potential for its region to be a dynamic location for digital solutions and innovation, and this spurred them on to create their Smart City Framework. This framework provides a holistic picture of how smart and integrated utilisation of technologies can transform the region. It also demonstrates how they can claim a clear competitive advantage, support sustainable growth, encourage new investment and improve everyday access to information and services – for business and their communities. The framework also includes a full program of initiatives that they will progressively look to implement.
There are a number of local projects that are ideally suited to being explored for synergy by putting them in a holistic context. They include:
- The expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport to deliver a new international standard runway – construction is expected to commence in late 2016.
- The $1.8 billion new Sunshine Coast University Hospital that is due to open in the Kawana Health Precinct at the end of 2016.
- Council’s 15 megawatt, grid-connected solar farm – construction of this will commence in the coming months, and by mid-2017 Council will be offsetting 100% of its electricity needs with energy from renewables.
- The development of what they claim to be ‘Australia’s only greenfield central business district’ the Maroochydore CBD, now known as SunCentral.
On the project side, smart technologies will be used to build the new City Centre. These include smart lighting, smart parking, and smart water and vacuum waste systems, the latter being Australia’s first underground pneumatic waste system. Rubbish will be removed from locations across the CBD by the equivalent of a big underground vacuum cleaner.
Last year’s Hackfest produced several great solutions and the winner was a smart parking app which is currently proceeding towards commercialisation.
In order to promote its dynamic location for digital solutions and innovation council already operates a Living Lab in Caloundra and is implementing the first stage of the Sunshine Coast Framework – SC Smart – into the urban street-scaping in Bulcock Street.
As they put those technologies in place council will be in a position to understand how they can take them from smaller locations and deploy them across the region. They understand that they need to use these technologies to scale.
There are two specific projects on the telecoms side …..
Council has made a submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to have a cable protection zone declared off the Sunshine Coast, which will enable the private sector to deliver Queensland’s first international broadband submarine cable connection and create a smarter, more agile community of the future.
On the local scene Wi-Fi will be rolled out across Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland, Buderim Village Park and Maroochydore throughout 2016. This will provide greater access to public Wi-Fi and help with council’s location-based data analytics to provide a better-informed way of managing service needs in those locations in the future. As the opportunity arises council will deploy these technologies further across the region.
Another smart initiative was establishing the council’s Disaster Hub, an innovative online delivery of services bringing resources together in one spot. In times of natural disaster the region now has a greater ability to communicate with its community and those agencies supporting the emergency response and management. They are also using 3D modelling to improve how to make better decisions for different locations.