18 August 2020
Salsa Digital

NSW Smart Places Strategy

NSW recently announced its Smart Places Strategy. The Smart Places Strategy focuses on building sensors and technology into infrastructure to benefit NSW citizens. Some of the potential applications include real-time air quality sensors, smart traffic signals and smart water meters for residents.

Customer-centric CivicTech

NSW’s Smart Places Strategy has been built around the customer, around NSW citizens. With customers at the centre, the strategy has six key focal areas:

  1. Skills, jobs and development

  2. Safety and security

  3. Environmental quality

  4. Equity, accessibility and inclusion

  5. Health and wellbeing

  6. Collaboration and connection

Skills, jobs and development

In this area, the focus is on creating high-speed internet connectivity to create jobs and drive productivity. Specific initiatives will focus on realising the benefits of open data, increasing digital literacy, using smart technology in places/locations, and ensuring a culture focused on innovation.

These initiatives will build on existing work, such as NSW’s Future Transport Digital Accelerator and the Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct.

Safety and security

This focus area aims to improve citizens’ safety and the general security of NSW while also reducing the crime rate. Initiatives will cover things like smart CCTV, smart lighting and emergency push-button systems.

These initiatives build on existing work, such as the Critical Communication and Enhancement Program that’s consolidating separate radio networks for emergency services into one shared network.

Environmental quality

In this area, the focus is on saving resources, reducing emissions and monitoring the environment. Initiatives include smart water meters linked to phones so citizens can monitor their water consumption, solutions to reduce carbon emissions, and environmental forecasting.

These initiatives build on existing pilot programs in environmental sensors and carbon-neutral towns.

Equity, accessibility and inclusion

This focus area looks at smart route planning, smart transport options to reduce commute times, using smart technologies to provide contextual history, and using data and technology to connect public places and people.

These initiatives build on existing work, such as improving regional connectivity and multimedia artwork at Barangaroo Reserve.

Health and wellbeing

In this area, the focus is on improving the health and wellbeing of NSW citizens. It includes monitoring and modelling air quality and environmental conditions, using smart technology and solutions to encourage physical activity, optimising health data, and telehealth.

These initiatives build on existing work, such as Sydney’s walking sensors and a virtual hospital trial.

Collaboration and connection

This focal area concentrates on bringing people, businesses and government together. It includes setting up new partnership models, open data and data-driven solutions, and improving citizen engagement.

These initiatives build on existing work, such as input from healthcare professionals through virtual reality modelling when building the $740 million Liverpool Health and Academic Precinct, and digital models of infrastructure assets.

Salsa Digital’s take

Smart cities are an important deliverable for digital transformation in government and the GovTech and CivicTech movements. They bring together technological advances and areas like open data, which has the potential to change lives and move Australia forward. We particularly like the citizen-centric approach to NSW’s Smart Places Strategy...yes, technology is capable of amazing things, but it should always be driven by user needs, citizen needs. We’re looking forward to seeing the projects that flow from the strategy. While it’s encouraging to see this GovTech and CivicTech momentum in NSW, we’re also keen to explore how these efforts could potentially be shared with other states. This could fit well within the collaboration and connection focus area, extending beyond NSW to other jurisdictions.

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