How smart precincts will shape the dynamics of the changing city

Smart precincts that combine novel mixed-use placemaking with emerging digital technologies are becoming testbeds for urban innovation.  A new discussion paper from developer Mirvac and WORKTECH Academy explores the potential

Australian developer Mirvac has launched a second discussion paper on the global development of smart precincts as part of WORKTECH Sydney 2018, which took place at Darling Harbour International Convention Centre, Sydney, on 21 March.

Co-produced with WORKTECH Academy and entitled The Future of the Smart Precinct: A Physical-Digital Intermix for City Innovation, this new report builds on Mirvac’s 2017 exploration of ways to activate the smart precinct by investigating the future of the smart precinct in the context of city innovation and regeneration.

The new paper looks in particular at the physical–digital mix of the smart precinct, at how it is renegotiating the web of relationships between city authorities, citizens, businesses and employees, and at how a balance can be achieved between preserving the human experience and the influx of new technology.

Building blocks of smart city

Smart precincts are defined in the report as digitally enabled, mixed-use urban districts that combine the latest technologies and smart services with new property and place-making strategies. From London and New York to Sydney and Seoul, they are emerging from the ground to form the essential building blocks of the future smart city.

Mirvac worked with WORKTECH Academy to conduct in-depth interviews with a range of 12 international experts in urban design, architecture, technology, infrastructure, property and city-making to explore the future of the smart precinct. These expert perspectives helped to sketch out the drivers of change that are shaping the smart precinct, emerging perspectives that are reframing these innovation districts in relation to the wider city, and the key challenges that they face.

At the heart of the report is a series of emerging ideas that position the smart precinct as a giant testbed for urban innovation in which new ideas and technologies are piloted on a bounded site before workable solutions are scaled up and introduced in other areas of the city.

Challenges that precincts face

Six key challenges for smart precinct development are identified through the research – the challenges of curation, sustainability, diversity, privacy, typology and fairness – and the report concludes with a set of recommendations for property developers, business occupiers, technology innovators and city authorities to address these challenges on the ground.

Each challenge goes to the heart of the smart precinct, its impact on wider city innovation and the need for a balance or a bargain to be struck between the human and the digital.

The Future of the Smart Precinct: A Physical-Digital Intermix for City Innovation is produced by Mirvac in partnership with WORKTECH Academy. You can download a copy here. An in-depth report on the research can be found in the Academy’s Innovation Zone.
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