Portal to city's tech future opens

24 May 2017

Digital dealings with city authorities, whiz-kid computer coders biking between tech hubs and energy-efficient lighting on streets lined with productivity-boosting data sensors and electric vehicles - welcome to Newcastle's future, not in 50 years' time but the next five years.

This bright, new tech-based era is spelled out in City of Newcastle's Smart City Strategy to go on public exhibition from Monday 29 May to Monday 10 July.

The strategy outlines an ambitious Council-led collaboration to diversify the regional economy and encourage innovation to meet urban challenges while attracting investment and slowing the Hunter's decades-long brain drain.

"If you'd like to see what Council has planned for the future of Newcastle, this smart city strategy is a must read," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"Recognising that modern communications and technologies create efficiencies and open bigger markets, it spells out the plan to foster high-tech, creative, knowledge-based industries to drive economic growth and attract both talent and investment.

"From building a tech hub and digital precinct in the city and promoting science-based disciplines through libraries and grants to effecting major energy efficiencies in transport and other services - we're re-inventing the city.

"Apps for rate payers to transact with council, digital wayfinding to guide tourists and sensors to tell businesses when to open and motorists where to park are key components of this overarching vision.

"I am very eager to see our community's response because it represents a once-in-a- generation opportunity to employ smart infrastructure in the CBD and across the suburbs. In this way the strategy is a portal to a new era."

Interim Council CEO Jeremy Bath said the proposed commitment to digital innovation and internet-based technology would consolidate Newcastle's $500 million revitalisation project.

"The city is making staggering progress already," Mr Bath said, "and is well positioned through the strategy and current developments, such as council's roll out of 350 smart light-poles and the state government's light rail project, for further economic growth on top of the current development boom.

"Applying these technologies to run the city more efficiently will help us maintain liveability and improve amenity for residents, businesses and visitors as the population grows.

"Around $25 million has been committed by council and project partners for the life of this strategy, with more funding actively being sought at the local, state and federal levels."

The four-year blueprint by council's Smart City Team focuses on six areas, including:

  • A smart economy that invests in innovation and infrastructure to support business success and attract industry and more investment
  • A smart environment in which the public, business and industry harness innovation to create a cleaner, more sustainable future
  • Smart living by embracing technology in public places to improve the amenity of the city and connect with people in new ways
  • Smart mobility in which walking and cycling have top billing and technology-enabled infrastructure is employed to create better travel experiences
  • Smart people attracted from afar and persuaded to stay or return to pursue careers
  • Smart governance marked by consultative leadership and collaboration across government, industry and business

The City of Newcastle Smart City Strategy is one element of the broader Newcastle 2030 Community Strategic Plan vision to create a smart, liveable and sustainable city.

Like the long-term strategy, the smart city strategy draws on input from -- and the cooperation of -- all levels of government, the community, educational and research providers and business and industry sectors.

To view the strategy and provide feedback, visit the City Administration Centre, the Newcastle Region or Wallsend libraries or www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/YourSay from next Monday.