Open data to play large role in future infrastructure

New and developing technologies will fundamentally change the way Australians live and work, Federal Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation the Hon. Angus Taylor has told a CEDA audience in Melbourne.

Mr Taylor said that while Australians are already accustomed to the idea of technology being built into cars, phones and even fridges, the nation still has a way to go in learning how to utilise such technologies to enhance its cities and manage the services and assets within them.

“It’s hard to predict how new technologies, like automated cars, will impact the government’s investments in infrastructure and the provision of services in our cities. But we can be sure that the impact will be large – in the medium- and short-term,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor said one way technology will have a major impact in the development of city infrastructure is through open data.

“We believe open data will unlock ways to improve community assets and services. It won’t just be the government that comes up with all the good ideas on how we service these cities, but we can help these technologies become a reality by opening up data to the world,” Mr Taylor said.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that many of our fastest growing sectors are dependent on our cities, whether it’s finance, business services, tourism, education, health, information technology – these industries now depend on the quality of our cities. And of course our economy is in transition as we move toward these industries playing a much bigger role in the make-up of our economy.”

Mr Taylor said the goal will be to encourage local government to partner with tech experts in using open data and new technologies to make Australian cities and suburbs more liveable, sustainable and productive.

“We are aiming to get the brightest minds to collaborate and work together in delivering a stronger Australia,” Mr Taylor said.

Additionally, he said the urgency for infrastructure development and investment stems from the fact “not all Australians are sharing in the benefits we’re seeing in the big wealth creation engines that are our major capital cities”.

Lord Mayor of Melbourne the Right Honourable Robert Doyle echoed this sentiment in his presentation saying, “How do you make sure there aren’t elements of cities that get left behind? How do you share the resources, the skills, the knowledge so that all benefit – not just the centre of cities?”

Mr Doyle proposed investing up to $1 million a year in small business, increasing investment four-fold in grants to small business, for the downstream benefits the economy receives from of those “small, smart and nimble businesses”.

“I want to set Melbourne up as Australia’s city of opportunity. You might not know the city of Melbourne has a flag, but we do… On that flag there is a fleece, an ox, a whale and a sailing ship; our first prosperity and primary production.

“Walk around our city and you will see the bones of our second wave of prosperity: the beautiful Victorian architecture that came out of gold, when we were the wealthiest city in the world. A third wave came on 20s and 30s when we discovered cheap and plentiful – if dirty – brown coal in the La Trobe Valley and it drove our manufacturing centre; and now we’re seeing that recede,” Mr Doyle said.

However, Mr Doyle said that while a census of land use and employment showed that Melbourne has lost 25,000 jobs in the automotive and manufacturing industries, there have been 130,000 new jobs generated in the high-value knowledge sector in the last eight years.

“That’s where the new prosperity is to come from,” Mr Doyle said.