The Coalition is promising to create a $50 million smart cities program that it hopes will encourage councils to “use technology more creatively” to solve urban problems.
Establishment of the scheme is dependent on the combined party being ireturned to power at the July 2 election.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that local governments would be invited to compete for a slice of the grant money,
“It’s really designed to encourage them to open up their data, to use technology more creatively, to better engage with their residents and ratepayers to enable them to better access the information council has and the services council provides,” Turnbull said.
“What we have set out in our cities policy is a very new approach to the way cities are going to be managed in the future or the way investment is going to be managed.”
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said there were “great opportunities” for the federal government to “support local councils to technology-enable their suburbs and cities.”
“We know for instance we can better utilise public spaces and carparks using technology,” Taylor said.
“We know that cities like Boston have been very smart in the way they've provided feedback from citizens to councils about what roads need repair and what other work they need to do around the region.
“Using technology is a fantastic way for us to improve our cities and improve interaction between our citizens, the people who live in our cities and suburbs and government at all levels.”
The $50 million program pledge was welcomed by local government peak body, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).
The program will encourage councils to partner with communities, local businesses, not-for-profits and research institutes to create service improvements and cutting-edge technology solutions to urban problems.
ALGA president Mayor Troy Pickard, said that the Coalition’s proposed program was “a positive step towards a local-federal government partnership to create more prosperous and innovative communities and realise their full potential.”
“Local government can bring a lot to the table as a partner in such a program and the work involved is a logical extension to work already underway in many councils,” Pickard said.
“Some local governments are already using innovative approaches and embracing digital technologies to engage their local communities in planning, facility design and program delivery.
“Councils collect huge amounts of data which can be analysed and applied to improve the lives of our residents and make our cities and regions smarter.”
Pickard said he hoped that initiatives developed under the program for urban areas could be “extended to our regional and rural centres so that all Australian communities can enjoy the benefits of digital transformation.”