Marita Cheng talks about her role as a Future Melbourne ambassador and the role the community can play in helping build the city’s digital capability.

By the Future Melbourne Team

Cities are places where people come to work, live, play and learn; at the core of these experiences are citizens and users of the city such as residents, workers, business owners, students and tourists.

Technology has a role to play in ensuring a high quality of life by enabling enhanced experiences in the physical environment. This can be done both overtly through the use of sensing technologies in an increasingly connected world, and invisibly where collected information and analysis are used to automate and create increasingly efficient services. Digital and technology continues to disrupt industries across the board; are cities on the verge of technology enabled disruption too?

Cities will get smarter through the use of new technologies to improve the management of urban flows, reduce costs and energy consumption, and facilitate the engagement of citizens; at the same time the growing adoption of mobile technologies by citizens will lead to an increased demand for well curated, 24x7 experiences and services. How will the possibility of real-time response to urban challenges impact our cities?

Rapid advances in battery technology, the proliferation of low cost sensors brought about by the smartphone revolution and access to high speed mobile data networks are driving the development of autonomous vehicles including cars and unmanned drones. How can we embrace new vehicle technologies in a way that congestion can be balances along with enhancing safety and the environment?

The sharing economy enabled through information technology optimises the use of resources through redistribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services. What will this disruption to existing business models mean for the future of retail, mobility, transport and other sectors?

Enabled by ubiquitous data networks and driven by advances in sensor technologies, Internet of Things (IOT) is likely to be a transformational technology with wide ranging implications for everything from urban transport, to medical devices and every-day household appliances. In November 2015, the City of Melbourne partnered with Telstra to enable new ideas that looked at solving some of the city’s big challenges using sensing technology at the Telstra IOT Challenge; how will this impact the way we experience and interact with our city?

The changing nature of work enabled by new technology now includes flexibility to work from home and workplaces hiring more contractors and freelancers; these considerable changes will define the future liveability of our cities by emphasising individuality, independence and multi-disciplinary education. How should we ensure our policies and the physical environment supports this changing mode of working?

Virtual Reality, an immersive digital experience which simulates physical presence in real or imagined worlds and Augmented Reality, the application of live, indirect views of a physical, real-world environment in which elements have been digitally augmented are both on the rise and on its way to becoming common life elements through the use of smart phones, glasses and headset applications. What will this mean for how we plan for and experience the city - virtually?

Three types of data; big (extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations), open (data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone) and dark (information assets that an organisation collects, processes and stores in the course of their regular business activity, but generally fails to use for other purposes) will enable innovation and deep analytics that will form a crucial part of decision making across scales. The City Of Melbourne continues to make an ever increasing number of its datasets publicly available on its Open Data Platform. Can this play a transformational role in the way we plan, operate and interact in our cities; and open up our cities to new players?

Technology will enable an increasingly participatory culture, it will provide a multitude of opportunities to ‘make, share, repair, learn, grow, cook together with neighbours’ and achieve lasting social change for individuals and neighbourhoods. BioBlitz is one example of where the City of Melbourne is partnering with citizens to better understand and map the diverse animal and plant species that call Melbourne home. Community and citizen groups will increasingly use crowd-funding platforms to fund and deliver neighbourhood improvement projects including community gardens, festivals and public art. What will an increasingly connected city mean for how decisions are made for the City and its people?

Continued rise of start-up and tech businesses are playing a significant role in driving innovation based disruption in the city; the emergence of these players means a constantly evolving role of government for solving citizen needs, providing services in the city, managing innovation and ensuring investment in public ‘good’. What will this mean for future of public private partnerships to deliver for and meet citizen needs?