Smart Urbanism Lab

Investigating Urban Life in the Digital Age

New digital technologies that will change our cities are being rapidly deployed. There is a profusion of ‘internet of things’, digital platforms, automation and sensors across all domains of urban life. National, state and local governments worldwide are implementing smart city policies. The Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to smart urbanism, bringing the perspectives of design thinking and planning to the visions and practices of smart cities in Australia and worldwide. We have particular expertise in housing, transport, governance, and digital infrastructure and aim to:

  • Foreground the interaction of citizens and smart cities
  • Foster critical evaluation of smart city policies
  • Design and demonstrate digital interventions to improve urban livability
  • Facilitate multidisciplinary smart cities conversations that traverse university and urban policy settings

Funded projects


Making Cities Smart

Funded by the Australian Research Council (DP170103384), in this project Robyn Dowling and Pauline McGuirk (University of Wollongong) examine the roll out of smart city policies in Australia, what they aspire to, and the potential social, economic and political implications. It consists of an audit of key policies across Australia and in-depth case studies to provide insight into how new technologies are altering the coordination and governance of city life in Australia as well as the new interests and alliances that are emerging through smart capabilities.

Urban Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles

Funded by Urban Growth NSW, in this project Robyn Dowling and Pauline McGuirk (University of Wollongong) examine the roll out of smart city policies in Australia, what they aspire to, and the potential social, economic and political implications. It consists of an audit of key policies across Australia and in-depth case studies to provide insight into how new technologies are altering the coordination and governance of city life in Australia as well as the new interests and alliances that are emerging through smart capabilities.

Digital Placemaking

Placemaking has become a cornerstone of urban policy thinking, expressing the vision for engaging local communities towards the creation of high quality public spaces that people can relate to and thus want to experience and enjoy. The increasing pervasiveness of internet access, combined with the explosion in online conversations through social network platforms, and the proliferation of digital urban displays and interfaces, has led to unprecedented forms of human engagement with public urban spaces, which in turn have become increasingly responsive and open to public participation. This research investigates the use of digital technologies and media in the design of distinct urban precincts conducive to social interactions and commentary, community creativity, engagement in civic debate, cultural liveliness and sustainable city living.

Participatory Local Government; Enabling Community participation for Logan and Canada Bay

This project, led by Tooran Alizadeh, develops new algorithms and tools to capture citizens’ voices and better inform local government decision making. It will investigate crowdsourcing channels (such as twitter, facebook and other online channels), and their potential for collecting citizen’s opinions and attitudes on major urban development and infrastructure projects. A range of online sources will be used to source data including social media, public comments on relevant online media releases and news articles. The project will produce a flexible digital platform that will enable local governments to capture and visualise citizens’ voices. Using machine learning, the platform will be able to predict citizens’ responses to urban interventions before their completion. This project is run under the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Industry, Innovation and Science.

Resarchers

Publications

Tomitsch, M. (2017). Making Cities Smarter: Designing Interactive Urban Applications. Berlin: Jovis Verlag. [More Information]

Alizadeh, T. (2017). An investigation of IBM's Smarter Cites Challenge: What do participating cities want? Cities, 63, 70-80. [More Information]

Selin, C., Campbell Rawlings, K., de Ridder-Vignone, K., Sadowski, J., Allende, C., Gano, G., Davies, S., Guston, D. (2017). Experiments in engagement: Designing public engagement with science and technology for capacity building. Public Understanding of Science, 26(6), 634-649. [More Information]

Bulkeley, H., McGuirk, P., Dowling, R. (2016). Making a smart city for the smart grid? The urban material politics of actualising smart electricity networks. Environment and Planning A, 48(9), 1709-1726. [More Information]

Rogers, D. (2016). Uploading real estate: Home as a digital, global commmodity. In Nicole Cook, Aidan Davison and Louise Crabtree (Eds.), Housing and Home Unbound: Intersections in economics, environment and politics in Australia, (pp. 23-38). Abingdon: Routledge.

Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M., McArthur, I., Fredericks, J., Schroeter, R., Foth, M. (2016). Situated interfaces for engaging citizens on the go. Interactions, 23(1), 40-45. [More Information]

McArthur, I., Tomitsch, M. (2016). Diagnostic Design: A Framework for Activating Civic Participation through Urban Media. Journal of Design, Business & Society, 2(2), 163-181. [More Information]

Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M. (2015). Strategies for intuitive interaction in public urban spaces. Interacting with Computers, 27(3), 311-326. [More Information]

Tomitsch, M., McArthur, I., Haeusler, M., Foth, M. (2015). The Role of Digital Screens in Urban Life: New Opportunities for Placemaking. In Marcus Foth, Martin Brynskov, Timo Ojala (Eds.), Citizen’s Right to the Digital City: Urban Interfaces, Activism, and Placemaking, (pp. 37-54). Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media. [More Information]

City Road Podcast

City Road Podcast
Informed stories about cities and urban life, from the researchers in the Urban Housing Lab at The University of Sydney.