In October 2018, the Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand (SCCANZ) in partnership with the Green Building Council Australia have released a Code for Smart Communities (the Code) as part of Smart Cities Week. The voluntary Code aims to guide urban development practices in Australia and New Zealand by embracing the use of technology, data and intelligent design.

The Code, which will mainly be used by government or private entities involved in the development of land, will promote the planned use of technology and data by encouraging:

  • the inclusion of physical pathways for connectivity, provisions for macro and micro cell infrastructure, open access assets and a public/private cloud infrastructure in planning instruments;
  • public commitment to digital inclusion, data use and privacy management, cybersecurity and a shared data policy;
  • use of sensors to gather data on conditions within and around the community;
  • embedded interoperability standards to support multiple types of integrated technology;
  • maintenance of high level data security and a culture which prioritizes data privacy and security; and
  • processing of data for analysis to continuously improve community performance.

While Smart Communities may make cities cleaner, safer and more efficient, there are also potential privacy issues associated with increased capabilities in monitoring and collecting data within communities. Where personal information is collected or used in a way that does not offer full transparency to the individual, then such collection or use may be in breach of Australian Privacy laws. Further, to the extent that location data around individual's most frequented places and daily habits is utilized for targeted marketing and advertising, then consent to receiving commercial communications will likely be required and the overarching data security concerns of such data processing will need to be considered.

Despite these considerations, the Code represents a promising step forwards in providing a clear smart communities framework to guide future urban development and planning by embracing technology, data and intelligent design. It will be interesting to see how Smart Communities evolve around these core principles in the future, and how Governments and planning authorities choose to respond.

A copy of the Code can be accessed here