Governance of Sustainable and Equitable Smart Cities

Project team

Victorian Local Governance Association
Connected Cities Lab

Smart city at night
Project summary

Australian cities are rapidly becoming ‘smart’ through the adoption of information technologies built into the infrastructure, service delivery and feedback cycles of local government. The ‘Smart City’ provides opportunities for improving the sustainability and environmental protections of a city through better resource management, real-time sensing of environmental conditions, and facilitating more targeted planning. However, smart cities also pose risks to future sustainability plans and to the health and wellbeing of residents. One example is the opportunity for self-driving cars to facilitate greater city sprawl, which has potentially negative consequences for both sustainability and health and wellbeing. Smart cities also raise issues around equity and justice, as data-driven technologies gloss over biases and injustices built into cities.  Furthermore, choices related to which issues are monitored and what data is collected have the potential to prioritise some issues, while overlooking or making invisible other issues which are important but for which data may not be available or collected.

Across Australian local councils, there is great variety in the stages of smart city planning and development which risks issues of interoperability and fragmentation. There is also limited top-down guidance from Federal of State Governments to guide local governments in the preparatory work for smart city technology. Smart city testbeds such as Sidewalk Toronto identified ethical issues with the concept, such as how people consent to data collection when in a smart city, and who decides what data is collected and how it is used. Yet, most cities are going through a creeping adoption of smart technologies without the necessary oversight and public critique to identify and address these issues.

This project aims to:

  • Develop an understanding of, and map, the current status of Victorian local governments’ smart city plans/strategies/visions, and how well integrated these are with their sustainability, equity and justice planning.
  • Explore the approaches to smart city governance in Victoria.
  • Explore the current enablers and barriers to LGAs developing smart city strategies, and how these relate to the LGA’s work on sustainability and equity/justice
  • Co-Develop a draft Victoria wide framework to support LGA’s in developing smart city strategies that are inclusive & sustainability, while also promoting interoperability across LGA’s
More information

For more information on this project please contact Timothy Kariotis: