People, data, technology and making our cities smart

The Future Cities Collaborative was pleased to welcome John Tolva and Frans-Anton Vermast (pictured) to Sydney in November to discuss smart cities, data, technology, and how city leaders can use these new approaches and technologies to make our cities easier to use and better places to live.

Whilst in Sydney, John and Frans-Anton met with the NSW Government Department of Innovation, Newcastle City Council, and Waverley Council, and participated in a public lecture on smart cities, and delivered the keynote addresses at the Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, “liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity.” But how do 21st century cities become liveable, vibrant, and productive by using data and technology? Our guests are at the forefront of devising policies for cities that foster innovation, create jobs, and make the city easier to use — vital lessons for our member cities to learn.

Having John and Frans-Anton in Sydney served to expand the Future Cities Collaborative into the smart city space and forge connections and contacts we hope we can build upon. Sustainability, productivity, and technology are issues that will be crucial to cities for a long time to come, so we look forward to helping the Future Cities Collaborative members combine people, data, and technology to make their cities smart. In 2016, we are also looking at how NSW cities can utilise innovation districts to foster economic growth and development. You can keep up-to-date with this project on our website.

You can read more about John and Frans-Anton’s visit, and watch video interviews, here.

Putting quality places first in Sydney

Cities need to be great places for people to live, work, and play, but how do local governments achieve this vision for the future and create thriving places? Ethan Kent and Philip Winn, our friends from New York’s Project for Public Spaces, came to Sydney to visit our members and discuss how to create and sustain beautiful, thriving places in which their citizens can live, work and play.

The week that Ethan and Philip (pictured here with Waverley Council staff discussing the famous Bondi–Coogee Coastal Path) spent in Sydney was consumed with visits to our member cities to run placemaking training workshops and public talks aimed at improving the quality of our public spaces. The guys spent time with the mayors, planners, architects, economic development officers, place managers, business-owners, and the community in each city they visited to ensure the learnings were cross-silo and shared by all in the organisation and community. Ethan and Philip visited Gosford, Waverley, Woollahra, Wollongong, Liverpool, Canada Bay, and Pittwater during their week in Sydney — cities which contain a population of just under 825,000 and constitute 11 per cent of the population of New South Wales.

You can read more; watch interviews with Ethan Kent, senior vice-president at Project for Public Spaces, and David Adam, founding director of Global Cities and presenter at our public lecture; and listen to a podcast of the public lecture on our website. 

Councils unite to pursue affordable housing 

One of the key priorities of the Future Cities Collaborative in 2015 has been helping our member cities to explore, through case-based applied research, approaches to affordable housing. The resulting Housing Affordability Communiqué illustrates what can be achieved locally in our member cities’ local government areas, and what then can collectively inform the broader public policy response.

Sandy Burgoyne, Director, Future Cities Collaborative, explains that ” what sits behind the term “affordable housing” is creating and maintaining equitable communities for people to live and work, where economic and social diversity is embraced and fostered. The success of adopting inclusionary housing rests as much with good policy as with the willingness of industry partners and community stakeholders to create diverse communities. We hope that the Communique extends and challenges the discussion on how to respond to this challenge.”

Profiled in the Communique are three local approaches that go some way to inspiring and informing alternative policy options that need to be explored, and, importantly, the Communiqué also lays out recommendations on how to bring these approaches to scale.

The Future Cities Collaborative would like to acknowledge and thank Dr David Rosen for his time and effort in overseeing the Communiqué’s production, and also acknowledge City of Canada Bay Council, Pittwater Council, and Waverley Council for committing time, effort, and resources to the Communiqué.

Download the Housing Affordability Communique at our website. 

Happy Holidays from the Future Cities Collaborative

On behalf of the Future Cities Collaborative team, and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your continued support throughout the year, and your contributions that have made 2015 an outstanding success for the Future Cities Collaborative and our member cities.

We look forward to working with all our partners, and new ones, in 2016 as we aim to bring you some exciting guests and events focused on city resilience, innovation, and placemaking. You can keep up to date on our website.

Sandy, Harriet, and myself would like to wish you and your colleagues and family and safe and happy festive season.


Professor Ed Blakely
Chair, Future Cities Collaborative