UNSW opens smart city analytics lab

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UNSW opens smart city analytics lab

Uses big data to create a '30-minute city'.

UNSW has opened an analytics lab to convert big data into insights that can aid the creation of smart, resilient and liveable cities.

Chair of urban sciences, Professor Chris Pettit, told iTnews the lab will facilitate better collaborative city planning and design, using Sydney as a “living laboratory and providing the ability for planners to explore various future city scenarios”.

One of the key capabilities of the lab will be to provide data-based answers to 'what if' scenarios around transformational infrastructure, such as mass transit.

“For example, what would be the value uplift associated with a new train line in Sydney?" Pettit said.

“The city analytics team have built the rapid analytics interactive scenario explorer (RAISE) toolkit to support planners exploring such scenarios.”

The researchers also have a goal of turning Sydney into a 30-minute city.

They will use Opal smartcard transport data, among other datasets, to understand how residential and employment clusters can be better integrated to reduce commutes to 30 minutes or less.

Both of these initiatives support the federal and NSW governments in their respective smart cities agendas.

Further research will build on both open and closed data including (but not limited to) housing statistics, bike data and public transport data.

Pettit said the lab will be an important way to help councils and the general public use technology to better understand development assessment processes.

Augmented and virtual reality tools and a digital sandbox will be used to visualise data.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher, who helped officially open the lab, said the research is a response to the “explosion of data available through everyday items such as smartphones, sensing devices and magnetic strips”.

“Turning the data into useful tools that can usefully assist decision-makers to make our cities better in the future… that is where [this lab] comes in.”

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