The Future Melbourne Digital City Hack 2016 was an ideas-jam, designed to provide passionate civic/city-tech disruptors an opportunity to come up with rapid prototypes for a digitally enabled Melbourne of the future. On the 18th of March, approximately 100 Melbournians, all ranging from entrepreneurs, technologists, futurists, student, consultants and designers arrived at ACMI, Federation square to think about what a smart Melbourne could look like.

Once in teams, participants were taken through a whole range of innovation and human-centred design exercises that started off by highlighting some of the core values, character and uniqueness of Melbourne as a city; what makes us happy, what makes us sad and why we love this town. The teams identified some of the most innate needs and desires of the people in the city; people from all walks of life including residents, students, visitors and workers alike. Using this as a starting point in their ideation, the teams began to imagine and visualise a bespoke smart city, that blended technology with unique Melbourne values.

The pitches and final ideas included the use of sensors, artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive algorithms, but the best ideas bought in unique Melbourne aspects along with focussing on social and human rather than solely increasing efficiency and usability. The winning idea; Internet of Trees, an integration of Artificial Intelligence and the natural environment enabled a seamless flow of real time information through the use of nature and trees. The runners up used as emerging technology of energy tiles on footpaths and use pedestrian power to generate energy, which through gamification could be socialized both locally and across cities. Artificial intelligence was used to make Melbourne more spontaneous, fun and adventurous along with rethinking the way we interact with our cities.

At the end of the weekend, a total of $6000 in prizes were given out as winning and spot prizes, the ideas were uploaded on the Future Melbourne consultation process and great new friendships formed on the common ground of civic technology.