The Commonwealth Government has named the first handful of smart city projects to received funding under round one of its Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

The $50 million program supports local governments, private companies, research organisations and not-for-profit bodies to work collaboratively and deliver innovative smart city projects designed to improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of cities and towns across Australia.

The assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, Angus Taylor, launched round one of the Smart Cities and Suburbs program in March 2017. That round closed on 30 June 2017 and 52 projects have received funding. Further announcements are expected shortly.

The first announcement of successful projects included $5 million of funding for the City of Darwin in partnership with the Northern Territory Government, each of which will contribute $2.5 million to the program.

It will see CCTV cameras installed at entrances to the city, along Daly Street and Bennett Street. Street lighting will be upgraded to LED lighting and on ‘smart’ columns with the capacity to adjust lighting to reduce street crime.

In Bicentennial Park smart lighting will be installed with sound monitoring to detect people in distress and potentially notify police and emergency services. The free Wi-Fi network will be expanded in key tourist and shopping areas. Smart parking sensors will indicate available parking and reduce congestion and emissions.

“This will be a multi-layered communication network to let Darwin plug in different types of technologies and literally ‘switch on’ the city. The Smart Cities and Suburbs program wants to support clever ideas that fix problems and can be replicated in other places, particularly in the outer suburbs of our cities and the regions,” Taylor said.

He also announced funding for a clutch of projects in Perth that includes:

  • $8.26 million to the City of Fremantle for renewable energy generation and storage, rainwater storage and distribution, and an electric vehicle shared ownership trial
  • $2.63 million to the City of Perth for a communications precinct around the new Perth Stadium and an irrigation trial in public parks
  • $2.05 million to the City of Joondalup for monitoring system to better manage the Yellagonga Wetlands
  • $1 million to the University of Western Australia in collaboration with the City of Wanneroo to gather real-time rail patronage data to improve development of rail station precincts along the Metronet extension
  • $265,000 to the City of Gosnells to gather real-time data on thermal performance of newly built homes, to encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures for new housing developments
  • $980,000 to RAC WA Holdings in collaboration with the City of South Perth for a trial of driverless electric shuttles.

Laurie Patton, recently appointed CEO of the Australian Smart Communities Association, said the grants were indicative of the growing realisation in government circles that smart technologies would positively transform Australia’s communities.

“While there's already a good deal of energy at local government level we'll need Canberra and the states and territories on board if we are to become world class, so we applaud the Federal Government on this project,” Patton said.