Melbourne will develop a broad-based knowledge culture where learning communities, the knowledge economy and innovation are valued as vital to improving our quality of life. We will draw on the municipality's diversity range of people, institutions and rich cultural assets to generate innovation.
Future Melbourne 2008


A very high number of people made statements that talked about innovative solutions to the issues that Melbourne faces in the future. Issues that innovation could address included the complexities of city life, environmental concerns and economic prosperity. For a large number of people, digital innovation was a key way to improve city life, and for many people innovations in the technology and science sectors was seen as the way for Melbourne to thrive. Many people made detailed propositions on creating techhubs (or other knowledge sharing forums) as a way of generating innovation.

There was an overlap between this priority and Priority 3.3. Attractive for New Business and Priority 3.4. Supportive of Business.

Summary of ideas (total 154 statements)

Digital apps (34 statements)

Digital applications (apps) featured in a large number of statements over a range of areas. Some people in this section stated that we can assume that most or all people in future Melbourne will have a personal device to enable digital app use.

The use of apps to enhance personal living was highlighted by many. Several ideas identified social connectivity as a way in which increased use of digital apps could enhance life in Melbourne. To have digital apps used to this end was seen to have a number of benefits. These include reducing social isolation; increasing the opportunity for like-minded people to connect; quickly and easily connecting people to places/events, including services for tourists, such as cultural heritage mapping apps; and, for a couple of people it meant connecting homeless people with services in the city. One idea built on the unintended consequence of Melbourne’s tree identification numbers, which enabled citizens to email trees their feelings:

In one sense, this example speaks to the increasingly networked digital and physical infrastructures – enabled through technologies including the NBN, IoT, wireless networks and personal mobile devices – in which location based technologies and services are critical to the development of both efficient smart cities and participatory citizen governance.

Several people discussed digital apps used in transport, including traffic apps primarily focused on improving traffic flow to cater for the increasing number of cars on the road. For example:

Individualised data can be sent to your personal device and public displays Its like google maps for all transport, and it knows you and your routine. It knows you through your previous travel data and decisions, so it can recommend the best travel plan for you pre trip and on route. It will integrate all transport, cars, trains, trams and shared bike plans. It can provide alternatives if you are disrupted. Right now nothing brings all this together.

Some statements addressed parking and MYKI as ways in which digital apps could improve the quality of city life. A couple of people saw apps as a way to better communicate with The Council, with one statement specifying apps for the monitoring of potential impacts of new transport technologies.

Other ways that people saw opportunities to improve city life included several ideas that proposed digital apps to enable social or cultural initiatives. For example, a system to measure people’s well-being in the city. A similar idea was this one.

By thinking about the possibilities of the digital space as a mediator for stimulating understandings between cultures, the proposal of a mobile app that allows knowledge sharing between cultures about Aboriginal Melbourne, realises the potential to stimulate new possibilities for learning about the historical and contemporary issues that are shaping the city today.

A culture that supports innovation (33 statements)

A large number of people made reference to the importance of cultivating or promoting a culture supportive of innovation. This was stated by many as achievable through investment.

Many people identified that investment in physical spaces could foster innovation. These statements used concepts like ‘future city lab’, ‘centres for excellence’, ‘living lab’, ‘trial and demonstration hub’, ‘children’s centre for science’, ‘industry hub’, and ‘co-working tech testing lab’ to describe their vision. This type of investment was identified as being conducive to innovation through enabling collaboration between sectors, identified as not occurring currently.

Innovation is currently occurring in isolation, without capturing sharing experience, knowledge about what has worked & what hasn't. We need a forum where interdiscuplinary (sic) practitioners can share practical experinces (sic).

Making more use of existing knowledge, and sharing this knowledge through collaboration, was seen by many as integral to encouraging innovation. Several substantial and detailed ideas elaborated on this theme. This was one of them.

A key to this proposal also is to unlock the different perspectives, insights, capabilities and experiences of our outstanding culturally diverse population. People from many parts of the world residing in Melbourne are a rich reservoir of talent, experiences and different perspectives, who could be part of this major collaborative venture, the "trial and demonstration" hub, and whose links and connections back home would further enhance the flow of ideas.

Art, design, education, research and technology were identified by some people as areas in which more innovation could occur. A couple of people saw that a culture conducive to innovation would encourage ‘talent’ to remain in Melbourne, for example, recent graduates.

High-tech innovation initiatives (30 statements)

A large number of people identified that high-tech innovation initiatives will play a vital role in future Melbourne. These statements saw innovation as integral to adding to the quality of life. Many innovative initiatives were proposed, as well as many ways in which innovations, or innovators, might be encouraged.

Innovations that take a ‘big-picture’ stance, or that have a strategic vision, were important to some, as an alternative to acting in response to immediate concerns only. These included ideas such as creating a virtual Melbourne which would save money in the long term and…

Allow improvements and ideas to be represented within it, and tested for their impact on the virtualised Melbourne.

High tech innovations were proposed as a means of making city life easier or more pleasant. To this end, several people stated that using technology for innovations in traffic flow, people’s movement through the city, pedestrian and vehicle wayfinding, and parking problems was a priority. This was a themed, augmented-reality, wayfinding suggestion.

We will provide users with a lens to see the past, present and/or future of Melbourne with layers of information that can be switched on and off as required at the time. Layered information would be activated by location, visual markers or push notifications sent by City of Melbourne. To realise our idea fully we propose the use of Immersive Augmented Reality including multimedia capabilities such as audio, video, 3D models and 3D animations that engage the user and enhances their experience of our city.

Technological hubs and centres for excellence were identified by a couple of people as ways that innovation could be fostered, and a similar number of people stated simply that a ‘high-tech’ Melbourne was their vision.

Collaboration to promote innovation (9 statements)

Several statements were focused on improving collaboration, to foster innovation. The key message behind these statements was that those who are innovating need to be exposed to each other in close, as well as through informal collaborations. A few referred to this type of collaboration as centres of excellence, or similar. This was one of the ideas, making points similar to a number of others.

Innovation sharing forum -- Innovation is currently occurring in isolation, without capturing sharing experience, knowledge about what has worked & what hasn't. We need a forum where interdiscuplinary practitioners can share practical experinces. Topics covering not just technology, but also governance, community engagement etc. We must come togethor as a city, rather than individuals to take risks, innovate & learn as a society. There is great opportunuty at the precinct level to develop these forums.

It was also stated that through providing opportunities for collaboration there is a greater chance of retaining talented young innovators in the city.

Digital life (29 statements)

A large number of people made statements about the digital nature of life in future Melbourne. Discussions in this section were about the ‘digital living’ aspect of life in a main urban centre, and generally took the position that digital innovations would play a big part.

The importance of digital culture was stated in a number of ways. Several highlighted that the provision of infrastructure to support digital living was a requirement. Many people saw digital means as a way to make better connections between people, via ‘internet of trees’, and ‘cybersenior’ initiatives, for example. These were statements about digital opportunities.

Connect the heart of the city to people via the brain of the city.

Beyond the tech, think about the people -- I think its great to see such excitement and interest in opportunities that digital connections, tech solutions and big data can offer. On the other hand, we need to be careful that we don't forget that these exist for the benefit of people.

In this vein, a couple of people cautioned that digital access is not necessarily available to all and to consider what implications that may have in a digitised future.

A few people stated that digital display of public information, via screens, or on the surface of the Yarra river for example, was their vision, and many short statements identified their vision for Melbourne as simply ‘digital’, or ‘digitally connected’.

Innovation for environmental improvement (19 statements)

Many people identified that innovation could drive improvement of environmental outcomes. Suggestions to address environmental concerns (primarily climate change) included digital innovation to track air pollution; enable transport sharing; assess people’s individual climate impacts; generate power, through harvesting energy from footsteps, or train brake systems, for example.

For a couple of people, an emphasis on science over the arts was stated as the way forward for innovations to tackle environmental issues.

It’s as important, or more important, to have a world leading “Centre for Climate Adaptation and Remediation” as it is another arts precinct or sports stadium.

Other people identified research, technology, and the arts as areas in which eco-innovation could occur.

The city will actively support diverse social, cultural and technological experimentation exploring different combinations of lifestyles and infrastructure that increase resilience to extreme weather and rapidly reduce carbon emissions. All experiments would aim to find solutions for energy, water, food, waste, transport and shelter that support thriving urban communities.