While advanced technologies are being implemented into our cities, it is rare that community members are ever consulted. The City of Melbourne and Monash University are looking to change that, with a research project looking at the experiences and perspectives of emerging technologies in and around Melbourne’s CBD to better plan for inclusive future cities. 

The project aims to be transparent and will engage with residents of Melbourne in an attempt to gain a community perspective on certain technologies like Artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G, that are able to monitor weather conditions, foot traffic, public spaces and whether bins need to be emptied. Despite the ability technology holds to make our cities better, it is often installed without the community being aware.

Taking a more transparent approach, the project will combine research expertise with industry knowledge to engage the community in the early process of testing new technologies. 

City of Melbourne Councillor Le Liu says the project will be beneficial to local residents who may have questions associated with new technology.

“This is an important initiative to provide a community lens on emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the way we run the city for the benefit of all Melburnians,” she says.

The second phase of the project will be launched in conjunction with Melbourne Knowledge Week (26 April - 2 May). Locals will be able to interact with each emerging technology by scanning QR codes dotted throughout Argyle Square that explain the role of each technology. By providing their feedback and interacting with the technology, members of the community are able to take part in the live experiment and play a vital role in shaping their city. 

The team of researchers from the ETLab, which is part of the Faculty of Information Technology and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University, will employ a three-pronged approach that focuses on awareness, perception and partnership. 

“By helping the City of Melbourne engage with the local community early in the process of testing new smart technologies and planning the future city strategy, this project will contribute important insights into how people perceive, value, and use emerging technologies in the urban environment,” says Professor Sarah Pink, Chief Investigator and Director of the ETLab.

“This partnership employs a transparent approach to data collection, which is also why it was so important for us to include the local community and invite them to take part in our live experiment.”

The findings and information gathered from this partnership between the City of Melbourne and the ETLab have the ability to be replicated in other urban spaces and major cities. 

To learn more about the City of Melbourne project or to take part in the activation, click here.