New government program: financing for smarter cities

Wed, 2017-03-22 05:42 -- Doug Peeples

For the past six months SCCANZ has been working with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to help shape the guidelines underpinning the $50M Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, and the recently announced Future Ready Program. SCC's global operations and footprint in key international markets – North America, India, Europe – have allowed us to provide the best possible intelligence to the Federal Government on the key successful attributes of a national smart cities incentive program. We look forward to continue to work with PM&C, local and state government, as well as the ecosystem of solutions providers, as this important program rolls out. — Adam Beck

The Australian government is putting together a new option to help cities meet their smart city goals. The $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs seed funding and accelerator program is intended to help cities with their smart city initiatives by providing financing for technological solutions that solve urban problems.

But as Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said, Australia's three levels of government will need to work closely together on city policies development to ensure that cities are able to realize their potential as the driving force behind a digital economy.

Speaking with, Taylor outlined the primary reasons why those policies are necessary. Among the most important is that policies would allow the three government levels to pool their resources to optimise their investments. Also, deeper collaboration will result in better investment decisions on smart city initiatives that comply with consistent, established goals.

"What we're seeking to do with our City Deals, with our infrastructure financing innovations, and what we're doing with the smart cities and suburbs program ... It's a huge suite of initiatives aligned toward some really clear goals around economic growth, job creation, amenity and liveability. It's that alignment of a whole range of initiatives that will make our cities better places to live," Taylor explained.

He added that governments' collaboration on policies also would apply to standards-based interoperability to ensure that infrastructure systems and technology used in one city could be reproduced elsewhere.

And in what should be good news for cities, Taylor said the federal government will become more heavily involved in infrastructure project financing. The goal of a new financing agency under the Prime Minister's jurisdiction would help the government improve how it evaluates and closes innovative financing agreements.

The overall goal for the suite of programs and initiatives, Taylor said, is to deploy smart city technologies throughout the country as quickly as possible and in the process build a quickly growing source of expertise and entrepreneurs.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.