Visionary planning launches the Illawarra into a bright new future
The launch of a unique tool developed at the SMART Infrastructure Facility marks a new sophistication in dynamic planning in Australia.
Vision Illawarra was conceived as a response to the necessity for local governments to contribute to regional planning without having access to all relevant data and information or adequate modelling tools.
It is the first regional platform in Australia that provides access to consistent and regularly updated data on transport, land use, economic growth and demographic change.
Vision Illawarra is divided into two distinct areas.
The first is the Vision Illawarra Dashboard. This is a free public site, which comprises publicly available data including recent economic, demographic, transport and land use figures as well as the evolution of utility usage over the last ten years.
This data is regularly updated, allowing for robust benchmarking and spatial analyses.
The second is the Vision Illawarra Modelling Platform. This is a subscription-based platform which allows planners and policy makers to utilise Vision Illawarra to understand the holistic change that a planning or policy decision will bring to the regional setting. This enables smarter and strategic decisions for the benefit of the region.
The Vision Illawarra platform provides the capability to model future growth scenarios.
SMART director Senior Professor Pascal Perez says the combination of rich data and sophisticated modelling software is of extraordinary benefit for a rapidly expanding area such as the Illawarra.
"Vision Illawarra achieves two objectives. First, it provides a one-stop shop - based on regularly updated data - to those organisations that contribute to the economic and social development of the Illawarra.
"Second, it provides models for various growth scenarios so we can collectively plan for the future of the region, and create a place that supports employment and creates a great place to live.
"What makes this special is that the key players can easily work together using one platform, where they so often otherwise come into conflict, each pursuing their own individual agenda.
"Council planners had already told us that it was one thing to access historical data, but crucially, they needed to know what might happen in the future. Vision Illawarra provides that capability."
The partners for Vision Illawarra includes the region's three councils, Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama, as well as data providers (Sydney Water, Endeavour Energy and Remondis), the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Transport for NSW and IRIS Research.
"We believe that quality information leads to quality decisions." - Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer.
Peter Hadfield, Senior Media and PR Advisor at Sydney Water, says the utility sees huge value in providing data to the project.
"We have been able to provide a significant amount of data to facilitate integrated regional planning," he said.
"The outcome and benefit will be to provide to councils and other stakeholders an ability to improve their infrastructure planning, look at how they can create better land-use, and generally look at how they can create better liveability for those people living and working in the Illawarra."
Liveability - a key component of Smart Cities - is also at the core of the involvement of Wollongong City Council.
General manager David Farmer said, "We believe that quality information leads to quality decisions.
"Both the collation of new data, and the presentation of existing data onto one site provides that information and creates opportunities for people to make decisions in a whole range of ways.
'The future of cities is about liveability.
"If you attract the creative class, you create economic growth. In this new service economy, Wollongong wants to be able to attract people who are creative, who are attracted here for its liveability, and who also have an entrepreneurial spirit and will create employment.
"If you don't do that and you try and exist on other things, the future of an economy in a post-industrial world, isn't bright."
To view the publicly available Vision Illawarra Dashboard, visit visionillawarra.org.au and follow the links if you would like to subscribe to the Modelling Platform, or contact Tania Brown at email@example.com.