Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies may find opportunities to partner with local organizations and offer technological solutions.

The majority of Australia’s 24-million-plus population lives in its cities, which are responsible for more than 80 percent of national economic output. However, the rise of knowledge-based industries and a growing population present both opportunities and challenges for Australia’s metropolitan and regional city administrators. Consequently, there is a growing need for improved infrastructure, intelligent transport systems and cities that can operate in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

The Australian government is launching its Smart Cities and Suburbs Program in September 2016, aiming to encourage municipalities across Australia to invest in “smart” technologies.

  • The $38 million program calls for local governments (councils) to implement smart city technologies to improve cities and suburbs. Federal funds will support part of the project while private and local funding will finance the rest.
  • The Smart Cities Program will provide incentives for councils to partner with communities, local business, nonprofits and research institutes to develop cutting-edge technology solutions for urban problems.

The federal government will support projects that enhance the security, livability and sustainability of cities but also those that reduce the cost burden on local councils. The most valuable projects will be transformative collaborations between multiple councils and technology industry partners that link closely with future plans for the area.

Speaking at the Future Cities Summit 2016 in Brisbane (Queensland) in August, the Hon. Angus Taylor MP, Australia’s assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, revealed that the goal is to encourage local government to “partner with tech experts” to make cities and suburbs more livable, sustainable and productive.

Specifically, Taylor stated that the government is eager to explore innovative approaches, such as collaborative design of solutions for complex urban problems, supporting pilots of emerging technologies, business case development and the implementation of technologies at scale.

A wide range of projects are expected to be eligible, including app-based detection of infrastructure wear and tear with automatic dispatch of maintenance crews, and computer-generated programs that support or enhance city services.

Furthermore, Australian and U.S. officials have framed a new agreement aimed at strengthening collaboration on the development of intelligent transport systems. The memorandum of cooperation will enable Australia and the U.S. to exchange information and best practices to support the development of smart cities empowered with new technologies.

The Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand was recently launched as part of the growing Smart Cities Council global network.

Wisconsin companies with expertise in integrated technology solutions and smart applications for cities/towns are encouraged to visit the Smart Cities Plan website and register for program updates. Wisconsin companies that have an existing partner or representative in Australia may also benefit by registering to attend one of the introductory roundtables taking place in cities around Australia in September.

In addition, Wisconsin exporters are encouraged to review the “Smart City” plans of individual local council websites to identify partnership opportunities, e.g., with the Sunshine Coast Council north of Brisbane in Queensland.