How good is your smart city planning? (The government wants to know)

Wed, 2017-05-03 06:07 -- Doug Peeples

The Australian government’s Smart Cities Plan is in full swing – three City Deals underway, $50M in smart cities funding out for interest, the Future Ready incubation program and a Cities Reference Group launched. Last week this group of representatives gathered to kick off a year-long series of meetings to provide advice to the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP.

Our first task was responding to a briefing on the status of a national cities performance framework, currently under development to assist in building transparency and accountability in investment decisions and policy interventions. SCCANZ will be engaging with its key stakeholders in the coming weeks to seek feedback on the draft indicators within the framework. — Adam Beck

To be clear, what the federal government plans to do has nothing to do with ranking how well cities conduct their smart city planning. But it has a lot to do with how well cities measure up to specific indicators – or what could loosely be called standards.

Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor last week kicked off an initial meeting of the Cities Reference Group that will help set the areas in which city performance will be compared across the nation. AFR Weekend reported some of the performance indicators to be used in the comparisons will probably be housing affordability and availability, infrastructure, city planning and city regulation as well as jobs.

The country's eight capital cities, 11 major suburban and regional locations and three City Deal areas will be included in the performance monitoring program. Those cities and areas are home to about 80% of Australia's population.

As Assistant Minister Taylor explained the purpose of the monitoring program, "What we're doing here is starting to push the focus of policy makers – federal, state and local – to that local level. If we have a city that's got issues with affordability, this gives a way of measuring whether they're improving."

It's not only about monitoring city performance
The program also is expected to let the federal government know how well its Smart Cities policy is working. And with affordable housing such a critical issue, the city and regional performance comparisons could provide an entry point for the property industry to push for regulatory changes that would eliminate regulations that currently hinder development.

The Cities Reference Group, of which Smart Cities Council is represented, includes 20 organizations and associations, including the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Housing Industry Association, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Institute of Architects and others.