According to Australasia cities leader at the independent engineering, design and planning firm ARUP, and adjunct professor at Western Sydney University, Tim Williams there are huge opportunities to use digital technology to transform the productivity and liveability of Australian cities.
“A strong public vision for our cities is needed if we are to shape technology rather than be shaped by it.”
Transport being one of the crucial ones to get right and be smart about. The proliferation of autonomous vehicles for example, offers a great opportunity for efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly transport that could pave the way for the repurposing of space devoted to the motor vehicle.
However, if mismanaged and not adapted to serve a coherent city planning vision, autonomous vehicles could easily bring more congestion to the streets and undermine efforts to reduce the sprawl characteristic of Australian city development.
Australian frontiers grappling with these challenges lie in Newcastle and Liverpool within Sydney where real smart-city thinking has been adopted. In Liverpool, the city council is leading Australia in its thinking and action to make its CBD a centre of urban and transport innovation with innovation in its DNA.
According to Tim, Liverpool has the bones for a great, engaging, walkable city thanks to Robert Hoddle who famously designed Melbourne’s city grid, which allowed an attractive, walkable, river-oriented city to flourish. Tim feels a tilt in thinking away from the car will breathe new life into the Liverpool CBD, allowing its residents to enjoy their city as Hoddle intended on foot or on pushbike.
- The space saved by reclaiming even part of Liverpool’s 5,000 car spaces in its 25-hectare CBD would allow generous boulevards, more outdoor eating and entertainment options – true re-activation.
- The city could claim as much as eight hectares of prime land for parklands, passive and active recreation, cycleways, outdoor dining and more.
Fortunately, Western Sydney Airport, Australia’s first fully digital international hub has inspired a whole community, which is driving Liverpool City Council’s innovative outlook. With this new outlook, it is investigating a trackless tram service, for instance, to connect its growing, aspirational and increasingly educated population to the new airport during its construction and operational phases.
Original article: Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2019
For the original article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, click here.
Image caption: Artist’s impression of the driverless vehicle between Western Sydney Airport and Liverpool.