Sensing technology and data doesn’t have to be scary or complicated. There are increasing opportunities for our city to adopt emerging technologies to support decision making and provide solutions that benefit all residents and visitors. A key focus of the Emerging Technology Testbed is to test and continually improve the way we communicate city sensing’ (using sensors to collect information by detecting physical, chemical or biological quantities and converting into readable signals).

For examples of how we’re using sensing technology in public spaces, explore the other projects in our Emerging Technology Testbed.

As well as staying up-to-date on global case studies demonstrating different ways of communicating sensing, we design and test innovative tools for communication and invite the community to share concerns, issues and ideas. Input from the community is a vital component of developing good communication tools. These activities inform how we implement data and technology solutions in our city with care and transparency to develop trust and empower the community.

Learn about the ways we’re testing communicating city sensing in our projects below.

How you can get involved

Follow this page to stay informed about the ways we’re communicating city sensing and upcoming events, exhibitions and workshops. We often seek feedback via surveys and consultations to help us learn the ways of communicating that are most effective, interesting and appropriate.

For any questions or to discuss our projects further, reach out to us at



  • Timeline item 1 - complete

    Experiences and Perspectives of Urban Sensing in Melbourne

    April 2021

  • Timeline item 2 - complete

    New Ways of Working with Community

    September 2021

  • Timeline item 3 - complete

    Data in the park sensor map

    May 2022

  • Timeline item 4 - complete

    MKW 2022: How the city sees

    May 2022

  • Timeline item 5 - complete

    City Sensing Data Futures

    September 2022

  • Timeline item 6 - active

    Implementation of findings from collaborative research projects

    From April 2021 ongoing

  • Timeline item 7 - incomplete

    Consultation, analysis and review for Data in the park sensor map

  • Timeline item 8 - incomplete

    Prototyping of innovative ideas

This project was established to extend on the previous collaborative work with Monash ETLab to gather more community input and develop ways to guide how we communicate data collection in our public spaces.

It outlines and demonstrates an ethics-based approach which is inclusive and underpinned by trust, privacy, transparency, open communication and care. The key outcomes of the report include:

  • insights from community workshops in Argyle Square
  • a scalable and transferrable set of values and recommendations
  • a methodology to enable future research
  • examples of how the findings could lead to effective and engaging public signage that communicates data collection in the public realm.

This report will guide the way we collaborate with the community on smart city projects in future.

This report was launched on 8 September 2022.

Read the report.

In collaboration with design agencies Craig Walker and Studio TunTun, this installation invited people to learn the ways that we are curiously investigating the complexities of our city using sensors to drive great experiences now and in the future.

The first section of the exhibition was a sensor table’, inviting attendees to get hands on with the technology we’re using in the city and ask questions to learn how they work. As well as an interactive data visualisation to demonstrate how we use data to find trends and patterns, visitors learned by reading about case studies, printing a ‘data receipt’ with sensors located in a 500m radius of a chosen city address, explored a realtime data dashboard connected to sensors in the room and shared feedback on how much they enjoyed the exhibition, how much they learned and how much they wanted to learn more.

Click Follow on this page to be kept informed of future exhibitions like this or reach out to to hear more about this project.

Argyle Square in Carlton was the first Melbourne open space to be ‘sensed’. A variety of sensors including micro-climate, motion, bin and pedestrian sensors were installed to capture data in the park and help us understand how it’s used.

With Studio Binocular, we made a foldout map to share information about our sensor types, how you can see the data, sensor locations and – most importantly – why we’re collecting data here. As part of the design process we went to the park with a draft map to ask park visitors if it was clear, information and engaging. These conversations informed the final map.

Our online consultation invites people to share feedback. We’re also distributing maps in City of Melbourne libraries and at Micro-Labs so that community members can grab a copy and help us test if this is a good way of sharing information.

Download the map and share your thoughts on our Data in the park project page.

This investigation included nine weeks of research to explore answers to the following question: How might we create a fair, inclusive and equitable method 
 for citizen involvement that genuinely and transparently 
guides testbed activity?

Activities in this project were designed to learn how members of the community who do not currently participate in community consultations might be involved in future city discussions. A design sprint following the nine-week community consultation made up of 22 interviews resulted in the following outcomes:

  • A set of principles to underpin working with the community
  • Conversation maps to guide discussions
  • Framework to design future consultations
  • Insights from the interviews
  • Global case studies

The report was finalised in September 2021 and has since informed projects including Data in the park sensor map and How the city sees exhibition. This project was a partnership with Craig Walker and Studio TunTun.

Read the report.

Explore the framework.

The first collaborative research project with Monash ETLab began with an investigation of global case studies of urban sensing in the public realm to understand trends and issues. This included projects like Sidewalk Labs in Toronto and Switching on Darwin in the Northern Territory.

To build our capacity for managing and using data the project also included Zoom interviews with a diverse range of people (21) who live, work, study or regularly visited Melbourne.

With insights from the interviews and learnings from different global methods of communicating urban sensing, a set of key issues was developed alongside principles to inform how we approach new urban sensing activities.

Read the report.

Emerging Technology Testbed