Australia: What it takes to be a sustainable, smart city: Urban innovation

Urbanisation is one of the mega-trends of our time. While less than a third of the world's people lived in cities in 1950, now more than half of us call a city 'home'. By 2050, urban dwellers will make up seventy percent of all people on the planet 1.

Cities are the engines of the global economy. But they are not always pleasant places to live in. Congestion, aging infrastructure and pollution are common issues.

Finding solutions to these problems has been the focus of intense research across industrialised nations. Now, innovations in sustainable energy and multi-modal transport networks are setting the foundation for more sustainable and liveable cities.

THE ENERGY-SMART CITY

Solar panels on rooftops have been a highly visible, and successful, energy-saving innovation. Now Smart Grid electricity networks can integrate existing and new infrastructure (renewable, storage, heat pumps etc) to improve overall network efficiency.

In Amsterdam's New West district, a Smart Grid network uses sensors and meters to monitor and control power delivery. The system integrates network-provided electricity with consumer-produced electricity from solar panels, discharging additional power back to the grid.

The latest green energy efficient buildings integrate renewable energy with smart meters to monitor energy use and energy management technologies.

With energy being provided by the private sector, there is a fresh need to provide a new risk allocation framework that strikes a balance between encouraging innovation and expansion of new initiatives while managing compensation claims of consumers for power outages.

At ground level, mobile internet services can now communicate with road management to predict traffic conditions and relay information directly to drivers. This will improve traffic congestion and help reduce the millions of litres of fuel wasted each year due to people sitting in traffic jams.

Further reductions in fuel consumption can be achieved when road systems are combined with mass transport modes such as driverless trains.2

The promise of electric cars with accompanying charging stations is also close to becoming a reality.

MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

City dwellers are wasting more time sitting in traffic than ever before. In the US, city commuters spend 42 'unnecessary' hours sitting in traffic every year.3

The Mobility Opportunity report which studied the transport systems in 35 major cities around the world concluded that cities which invest in developing an efficient public transport network can generate economic value of up to US$28 billion annually by 2030.4

Public transport is often a difficult issue for city leaders. The upfront investment is substantial and experience shows that a piecemeal approach to transport planning and investment usually fails to encourage commuters to use public transport more.

One of the issues is the need for seamless multimodal urban transport options. The ultimate goal is a fully integrated mobility platform and transport infrastructure using smart cards, multimodal trip planning tools and real time information for door-to-door multimodal transport. This applies to both the movement of people as well as urban freight logistics and distribution.

How can rush-hour traffic be better managed? Cities like Singapore and Tel Aviv are using road pricing to manage congestion with electronic toll charging that adjusts prices according to toll volumes, vehicle types, time and location. This has reduced both traffic in the charging zones and pollution.

The right investment and planning mix for public transport is essential. Options include allowing transport operators and property developers to develop retail and commercial buildings at rail and bus interchanges and associated residential development over rail corridors.

The result is easier access to transport hubs and better customer experience in using urban transport modes.

Halting the traditional car-based urban sprawl is a focus for many cities. Dense mixed-use development patterns in urban areas which are well connected to public transport is an important option (eg building over rail corridors).

An interesting scheme was proposed over the Central Station and Eveleigh rail yards but appears to be postponed. Whilst there are critics to adopting high rise developments, pragmatism is needed in dealing with growing urbanisation needs.

POLICY AND REGULATION

Real progress toward sustainability requires smart policy-making and legislation.

Late last year, the NSW Government released its A Plan for Growing Sydney, which articulates the vision and plan for the Sydney Metropolitan Area over the next 20 years. The Plan is an excellent guide for Sydney's future productivity, environmental management, and livability – but making it a reality will require innovative thinking and new funding approaches.

Options for delivering on the city's infrastructure include the PPP model, unsolicited proposals, bundling smaller infrastructure packages together into a PPP and/or private sector development of new commercial and residential hubs over railway corridors, etc.

The European Commission has released a draft Strategic Implementation Plan for Smart Cities and Communities. Australia needs its own strategic plan for our cities to make them smarter and liveable for this century.

The Smart Cities Summit to be held on 12 November is presented by the Future Cities Collaborative (an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney) and Parramatta City Council.

The forum is an opportunity for city leaders in New South Wales to explore the opportunities and challenges in creating Smart Cities. It will be interesting to see the outcomes.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, "livable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity."

Footnotes

1 Data from the UN and Worldwatch Institute.

2 The 10 cities with the most horrific traffic.

3 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Inquiry into the Utilization of Rail Corridors, Feb 2012; NSW Legislative Council.

4Siemens, The Mobility Opportunity – Improving public transport to drive economic growth, 2014.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Most awarded firm and Australian deal of the year
Australasian Legal Business Awards
Employer of Choice for Women
Equal Opportunity for Women
in the Workplace (EOWA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.