Future cities lab launched at UNSW

Monday, 07 May, 2018

Future cities lab launched at UNSW

The world’s first lab for planning future cities has just opened at UNSW in Sydney.

This City Analytics Lab will improve collaboration and information sharing among agencies responsible for planning and designing smarter, more livable future cities.

Housed within UNSW Built Environment, it uses interactive technology, big data, visualisation, virtual reality and planning models to support an interdisciplinary approach to decision-making for city planning and policymaking. The lab is designed to help government and industry understand these technologies and new approaches to inform the planning of more livable, productive, sustainable and resilient cities.

Professor Christopher Pettit, chair of Urban Science in the Built Environment Faculty at UNSW, said traditional technology such as websites and file sharing cause silos between agencies that impede collaboration and group decision-making. At the City Analytics Lab, digital artefacts in the form of data and models are easily viewed and shared in real time.

“The Lab brings down the barriers for information sharing, engaging with data, models and simulations,” Pettit said. “This is a room that supports the multidisciplinary approach that is required when you are looking at cities. Cities are not run by one department, one agency or one group. We are trying to get people working together on the same page,” he said.

The City Analytics Lab features an interactive collaboration space that gives policymakers, government officials, communities and industry leaders the opportunity to explore possible outcomes of planning decisions on factors such as transportation, education, health and justice. It also employs virtual reality and augmented reality technology that provide realistic and dynamic experiences.

Paul Fletcher, Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities — who officially opened the lab — said he commended UNSW for its important work in making Australian cities smarter and more livable through the City Analytics Lab.

“This is an important focus for the Turnbull government as we roll out our $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, through which we are working with UNSW and other organisations including local councils to make our cities better places to live using data and technology,” he said.

Image credit: ©Iakov Kalinin/Dollar Photo Club

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