Parramatta to be Australia’s first digital city
Under the community plan strategies, Parramatta launches a specific plan to become a digital city.
Parramatta will become Australia’s first digital city, with free wireless internet and apps detailing developments and telling you where to park. The Parra Connect strategy aims to “boost city revenues, with a return on investment” creating corporate partnerships to place wireless hotspots throughout the suburb of western Sydney. Wireless could be mounted on street lights to bring “smart corridors” around major government, education and shopping districts. The strategy also details trials of online health care and the use of streaming security videos to catch criminals. The council has begun developing an SMS service to allow ratepayers to text their complaints and service requests to the council, while the University of Western Sydney is drawing up a “parking availability application” to give real-time parking data to motorists via their phones. Residents would also be told where new developments are planned via a “planning alert application”. Discussions are under way to trial wi-fi kiosks throughout the CBD to give visitor and event information and details of local business. Parramatta City Council will drive the program over the next year, working with universities, Google, Telstra, Microsoft, business owners and community leaders. “I don’t think there’s any other council in the state that has embraced this issue like we have here in Parramatta and we’re well-positioned to be one of the true leaders in this field,” outgoing Lord Mayor Paul Garrard, who launched the initiative, said. “We see the many opportunities that these emerging digital technologies can create – the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.” Mr Garrard said Parramatta had so far made small steps, with wireless connectivity at council libraries. “Creating a connected city is a vital piece of our future infrastructure,” he said. “We are well on our way to becoming a smart city.” News.com.au, 2010
Parramatta has moved towards becoming a ‘smarter city’ by adopting emerging digital technology, securing funding streams and delivering a number of cutting edge initiatives. These include ‘connectivity’ improvements to Council libraries including RFID and wi-fi installations; the redevelopment of Council’s website to make it easier for residents to do business with Council 24/7 and the launch of Council’s award-winning ParraSync. Council recently introduced two Smartphone applications that offer visitors live navigation to car spaces, and live tracking of the Parramatta Shuttle Bus (PCC, 2012:114).
Press relase: Parraconnect to explore digital opportunities.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has praised Parramatta City Council’s approach to new technology, at the launch of ParraConnect, at the Riverside Theatres last night, an initiative which explores ways digital technologies can improve communities. Welcomed to the event by Parramatta Lord Mayor, Cr Paul Garrard, Senator Conroy described the ParraConnect initiative, as “extraordinarily exciting” and congratulated Parramatta City Council on its commitment to the future of connective technologies. ParraConnect evolved from a partnership between CivicTEC and Parramatta City Council, under its e-Parra strategy initiated by Cr Garrard in 2009. Last month the ParraConnect Partnership, an alliance of community leadership groups, was formed to continue to drive the program forward. The Minister also formed part of a discussion panel with James Dellow, Chair of Headshift Australia, Allison Hornery co-founder of CivicTEC, Martin Stewart-Weeks, from Cisco, and Cr Garrard, which announced some of the early components of ParraConnect, including the Wireless CBD proposal and a digital small business education initiative. The launch also highlighted the progressive work already happening in the city, and discussed high-level issues across the spectrum of digital society and digital economy-related topics, ranging from economic development to cultural and social matters. Lord Mayor, Cr Garrard, said the successful launch was a great way to introduce this community-led initiative and that education and understanding of emerging digital technologies, was key to its success. “From big business to small business, ParraConnect will work with all members of the community to build a better future,” Cr Garrard said. “Digital technologies will continue to impact the way our future communities communicate, interact and operate and it’s important, that people of all ages, embrace the opportunities that ParraConnect can provide,” he added. “We’ve already identified a number of initiatives, such as the introduction of free Wi-Fi hotspot zones around Parramatta, and through continued community involvement, we will continue to work towards becoming a better connected, smarter city.” The ParraConnect launch was narrowcast live over Twitter with more than 130 tweets from the event reaching over 6,500 people directly via messages. To find out more information visit www.parraconnect.net.au (Parracity press relase, 2010).
Parramatta City Council. (2012). Parramatta Twenty25: End of term community strategic plan reporting. Parramatta: PCC.
Parracity Press Release. (2010). http://www.parracity.nsw.gov.au/your_council/news/media/media_releases2/2010/june_2010/parraconnect_to_explore_digital_opportunities