The City of Melbourne has received multiple submissions from relevant parties to work in partnership to enable Melbourne as a leader in digital urban technology innovation with a focus on the internet-of-things (IoT) and new networking technologies such as 5G.
In 2018, we ran a series of workshops with key external stakeholders that identified opportunities and challenges in harnessing the potential of 5G and IoT in Melbourne. More information on this is provided in the current context section below.
The workshops identified that the introduction of 5G in particular, creates a great opportunity for us to work together with relevant parties to explore the benefits of 5G and IoT in a testbed environment to understand and solve city challenges. Testbeds will allow us and relevant parties to ‘test and learn’ in a managed environment, and help inform an ideal and preferred future where 5G and IoT create mutual benefit for the city; the people who live, play, work and visit our municipality; and the parties that deliver these services.
We intend to run a number of emerging technology testbeds over 2019 and beyond. The Expression of Interest (EOI) process that ran in March 2019 was for Testbed 1, which will focus on 5G and IoT and will be the first testbed of its kind in Melbourne. Testbed 1 will focus on governance; data collection, sharing and storage; and infrastructure placement and design. It will commence end of March 2019 and culminate in an opportunity to engage and educate the public about the benefits of 5G and IoT at Melbourne Knowledge Week (MKW), which will run from 20 to 26 May 2019. MKW is our unique annual festival for a smart and innovative city, where we engage all Melburnians to explore, discuss and ideate our future together.
Testbed 1 will address the following challenges:
- Challenge 1: Governance
The purpose of Challenge 1 is to define the framework of rules, relationships, systems and processes for an emerging technology testbed. These insights may then be used to inform future testbeds, as well as longer term municipality decisions that balance industry, city and community needs in the rollout of future technologies such as 5G and IoT.
Success Factors: Clear conceptual model(s) for accountability and responsibility of any testbed activity. This includes the full scope of designing, implementing, funding and maintaining testbeds.
Possible end deliverables: Conceptual design of agile governance model(s) that accommodate organisations from multiple sectors, large and small, public and private etc.
- Challenge 2: Data Collection, Sharing and Storage
The purpose of Challenge 2 is to establish data collection, sharing and storage protocols that allow us and relevant stakeholders to share existing and new data sets in the testbed. Today, this data is not shared in an effective way between private and public stakeholders.
Success factors: protocols (e.g. policies, procedures and processes) that maximise dataset applicability, availability and standardisation for as many stakeholders as possible.
Possible end deliverable: Data sharing procedure document for data that is generated in the testbed.
- Challenge 3: Infrastructure Placement and Design
The purpose of Challenge 3 is to design 5G and IoT infrastructure that minimises impact on the public realm and meets our City of Melbourne urban design standards. 5G telecommunications will result in up to 100 times more infrastructure than 4G at the street level, including small cells and antennas. The testbed provides an opportunity to envision city design and experience to co-create an ideal future that is beneficial to all stakeholders. It will also consider infrastructure governance (which links to Challenge 1), e.g. workshop participants in 2018 advised that we can play a role in encouraging industry parties to combine expertise and resources in 5G and IoT infrastructure delivery.
Success factors: less physical hardware and infrastructure in the urban realm and achieving a design standard that aligns to our urban design standards.
Possible end deliverables: Minimum viable product(s) or prototype(s) for physical infrastructure that embed 5G and/ or IOT capability for a range of parties and uses. This may include consideration of governance options (Challenge 1), e.g. public and/ or private sector-led infrastructure delivery.
The EOI process has established a group of partners for Testbed 1 to solve challenges 1,2 and 3 to enable an optimal innovation environment where experiments can be run to solve future city challenges. Testbed 1 will establish new models that harness emerging 5G and IoT technology, which may be incorporated in future testbeds and broader smart city use cases across the municipality.
Testbed 1 will be located inside Melbourne Innovation Districts - City North (orange area):
This area was selected as it:
- includes a mixture of residential and commercial planning zones and open space;
- encompasses mostly local roads owned and operated by City of Melbourne;
- covers areas of significant pedestrian activity; and
- is located within the MID City North and includes University of Melbourne and RMIT University buildings.
MID is a partnership between City of Melbourne, University of Melbourne and RMIT University with a shared vision to develop a world class innovation district and environment that supports and develops next-generation Melbourne: www.mid.org.au. City North has been selected as the first MID innovation district because of its long and successful history of innovation, and the concentration of knowledge institutions and investment in this part of Melbourne.
5G spectrum licenses will officially commence in Australia in March 2020. Leading up to and beyond this date, we understand that there will be a concerted increase and effort for telecommunications companies to rollout 5G enabled technologies.
This presents a variety of challenges and opportunities for us and our community in creating an ideal 5G and IoT enabled future.
- Currently, there is minimal cross-sector activity when it comes to testing emerging technology. The amount of infrastructure required for 5G creates an opportunity for public and private organisations to collaborate on the next generation of connectivity and other emerging technology.
- Fully functional 5G coverage with low latency and high bandwidth will require up to 100x more infrastructure that is visible in the public realm and inside buildings. Working together with partners, we have the opportunity to develop and design infrastructure plans that fit into the existing public realm aesthetic, are optimised for performance and ensure seamless connectivity.
- Existing telecommunications business models allow larger telecommunications providers to own and maintain their own infrastructure. This factor combined with the amount of infrastructure required for full 5G coverage is resulting in a more cluttered public realm. However, 5G hardware, including small cells allow for multiple telecommunications companies to co-locate in small cells to provide their own 5G signal. We are well placed as a vendor neutral organisation to bring together the major telecommunications companies to co-design shared infrastructure at lower cost and with less clutter.
- Implementing projects that utilise emerging technology such as IoT in the municipality can be complex and long. When projects are up and running, there are no existing agreements in place to share the benefits of captured data with other organisations and individuals that may benefit. Working together with partners, we have the opportunity to co-design data governance and collaboration agreements that allow relevant parties to understand city activity in a deeper way than ever before.
- Community understanding of 5G and IoT technology is heavily influenced by marketing and media. Through the testbed activity, we and our partners have the opportunity to communicate, educate and involve the community in the delivery of new technologies.
Applications for Testbed 1
We have received applications from organisations and individuals to be a part of our testbed partnership through a public Expressions of Interest (EOI) process for Testbed 1.
We have secured 6 types of partners, which includes:
- Telecommunications – providing 5G and IoT signals
- Hardware – providing IoT and/or 5G hardware
- Infrastructure – providing infrastructure where IoT and 5G can be located
- Data – providing data from the testbed back to partners
- Community Lab partners – providing hardware, software and physical space
- Innovation – using the 5G signal, IoT hardware and data to solve city challenges and test new applications.
Successfully selected Testbed 1 partners will come together to co-create an ideal future inside of the testbed environment that harnesses the benefits of 5G and IoT technology for city benefit.