Posted on January 16, 2017 by staff

Can tech vision make Adelaide the centre of the universe?


Chattanooga, in Tennessee, has been reborn by an almost evangelical drive to become the world’s smartest city.

Described by some as the city that was “saved by the internet”, it proudly proclaims itself a ‘playground for pioneers’.

After almost dying in the 1970s, it is now heading towards its connected future at amazing speed.

Chattanooga’s economic revival has attracted interest from cities around the globe.

In September a delegation from Adelaide arrived in Tennessee on a fact-finding mission.

South Australia’s coastal capital has embarked on a similar journey to tech-driven prosperity, looking to position itself as its nation’s Gig City and the most connected city in the southern hemisphere in its bid to attract businesses and jobs.

Central to that smart city vision is the creation of a ‘Ten Gigabit Optical Fibre Network’ to serve its central business district and the north of the city.

The new network would complement other projects looking to deliver higher speed internet services to the city of more than one million people and connect to cloud-based data centres to open up a host of economic and social opportunities.

The city’s Lord Mayor Martin Haese believes the network is vitally important to its smart city aspirations.

“It has the potential to make Adelaide the centre of the universe,” he declares.

“This can be the solution for attracting head offices to Adelaide, creating jobs, driving creativity, innovation, investment and so much more.

“We’re dedicated to having the fastest, most reliable data transfer in the nation. We’re confident from overseas experience that this infrastructure will attract new businesses, in new growth industries, as well as support the growth of existing businesses in the city.”

Adelaide has shown serious intent in its bid to make its mark globally. It is the first international partner of US Ignite, a White House inspired drive to foster smart cities and the creation of next-generation internet applications.

Mayor Haese says: “Adelaide City Council is working hard to implement a range of technology infrastructure projects that will position Adelaide as a truly smart city.

“From smart parking and lighting to the deployment of environmental sensors serving open data to the community, we have a range of fantastic smart city projects underway.”

The council is set to begin rolling out smart lighting and smart parking early next year with project completion expected in 2019.

Peter Auhl is CIO at the city council.

He says: “We are looking at ways we can feed our economic growth in the new digital world. We are a small city with a background in manufacturing. These types of jobs start to dry up when you go through economic transition.

“It’s about creating growth opportunities to lure some larger corporate entities to really kick-start our digital economy age.”

Auhl says that at the moment businesses in the city have to compete with domestic internet workloads.

“Businesses lose productivity when the kids come home from school and start firing up Netflix and YouTube,” he says.

That’s where the cloud fits into the vision.

The cost of creating the network has yet to be revealed, but Auhl says the city is looking at the possibility of a public private partnership along with ways that it can potentially generate revenue from it.