Disruptive Technologies roundtable
Digital technologies are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the economy. As with previous rounds of industrialisation and innovation, shifts in the way work is organised will also bring changes to the urban fabric. The City of Melbourne is attempting to address this important issue as part of its Future Melbourne 2026 Strategy and asked the Committee for Melbourne to host a Disruptive Technologies roundtable as part of its endeavours. A number of the Committee’s Future Focus Group participants attended the roundtable to provide their views and the fascinating discussion that followed revolved around issues such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and the implications for CBDs as engines of economic growth. The overarching conclusion reached through the discussion is that we must get better at developing and nurturing a culture of exploration and innovation. It is therefore encouraging to see that the City of Melbourne is actively engaging the community on this topic that will be a large determinant of our future prosperity.
The London Crossrail project has often been heralded as an example of infrastructure built using alternative funding mechanisms however, it is also on track to becoming best practice in terms of smart use of technology. Indeed, Crossrail is using camera technology to identify signals from mobile phones to track how people are moving through the ten new train stations in an effort to prevent bottlenecks and make stations more efficient and safer. Operational in 2018, Crossrail trains will be the most heavily instrumented passenger trains in the UK fitted with many technological devices which will relay how well the trains and associated infrastructure are doing, in real time. Mining the data that technology provides will become increasingly important in ensuring mobility, connectivity and reliability, all of which are critical to our productivity and liveability. As Melbourne is set to embark on the $11 billion Melbourne Metro Rail Project, it is essential we look to examples of best practice to optimise our assets and network to facilitate a modern economy.
Level crossings submission
Last week, the Committee for Melbourne provided a submission to the Level Crossing Removal Authority in response to its Caulfield Dandenong project. The Committee has been a longtime advocate for grade separations – we highlighted the need to tackle our city’s level crossing issue in our Melbourne Beyond 5 Million report in 2010 – and as such we welcome the Government’s Level Crossing Removal Program, which will proceed with the removal of the nine level crossings on the Cranbourne Pakenham line between Caulfield and Dandenong. Not only will the removal of these level crossings provide a localised response to network weaknesses; it will also benefit the larger network by relieving congestion on our roads, enabling capacity increases and optimising the benefits of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project – including its High Capacity Signalling capabilities. Melbourne has approximately 170 level crossings, which makes our city the only city in Australia facing this problem on such a scale. While their removal can be costly and provides temporary inconvenience, it is a necessary undertaking in order to ensure that our transport infrastructure arrangements will be able to sustain our rapidly growing population. Read our submission.
CSIRO's dating service
Committee for Melbourne Member CSIRO’s new digital unit, Data 61, will soon launch a platform for students to find internships and other study-related work opportunities with business. Branded as Australia’s only free student-only job service, the purpose of the site is to make the engagement between students and businesses as easy as possible by matching students and their capabilities with businesses which specify what skills are needed to do
the job they have available. While currently operating in beta phase, the site is aimed at helping students get the work experience they need to be ready for the workforce when they have completed their degree. While many sectors, such as health and teaching, already do this well, this is not necessarily the case for many of our emerging industries. As demand for study-related work experience is currently outstripping the opportunities available, this initiative will engage industry to help meet this growing demand, while making work-integrated learning available to students thus helping graduates to become more ‘work ready’. The fact that this service is also available to international students is a promising example of the efforts we should all make to attract and retain international students as part of our innovative and entrepreneurial workforce of the future.
Snap Send Solve
As residents or people who work in the city, there are many ways in which we can help maintain its amenity and liveability – one of them is Snap Send Solve. This free smartphone app allows people to report various issues – such as a damaged footpath or graffiti – in their local council, all at the touch of a button. Using the app, all that is required is to take a photo of the issue, which will then automatically be sent to the relevant local council. The photo is geotagged with the location of the problem and categorised by the user of the app, so councils know exactly what type of issue it is, where it is and when it was identified. Snap Send Solve is already Australia’s most popular mobile incident reporting app, allowing users to relay incidents to every single council nationwide, as well as to the growing list of organisations such as utility companies and asset management bodies. Snap Send Solve is yet another innovative way in which digital technology has been harnessed to make Melbourne a smarter and even more liveable city.