Christchurch, all but flattened by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in 2011, is grasped the opportunity to rebuild for the better.
The city is harnessing 21st century technology and is quickly becoming a shining example of how a smart city can function.
“We weren’t left with a blank slate, but the 2010/11 earthquakes really did get everyone thinking along the same lines – if fate was going to force us to rebuild, we should take the opportunity to do things smarter,” Michael Healy, Smart Cities Programme Manager at Christchurch City Council, told Build Magazine.
Smart Christchurch launched in 2016 to promote the city as an open and connected city while showcasing solutions and technology that will make life better for its citizens and will be replicated by future aspiring smart cities.
Driven by their purpose, “To trial technology and approaches that accelerate Christchurch becoming a city of opportunity for all – a city where anything is possible,” Smart Christchurch is exploring new technology and approaches to make the city a smarter, safer place to work and live.
Some of the most recent innovations showcased on Smart Christchurch’s projects page include SmartView (an app which collates real-time data from private and public organisations to make services easier to access), a mobility parking solution (helps find available mobility parking spots and report mobility parking space abuse) and rubbish bin sensors (which send alerts when bins are full, reducing littering and complaints).
The city is also rewriting its narrative from one of measuring and reacting to seismic risk, to instead building seismic resilience.
Christchurch Council has been trailing EQRNet for two years – a network of 150 sensors which measure ground shaking and provide real time information directly to building owners, leaseholders, engineers and Civil Defence during a seismic event.
“There’s never been such a dense network of seismic sensors in an urban environment before,” Mr Healy said.
“Businesses and decision makers are able to get information straight away and prioritise resources accordingly. That means there’s no guessing or drawn-out process to determine whether the building is safe to occupy.”
With a goal to be one of the world’s most connected cities, Smart Christchurch is creating a reliable platform for city data which will provide a reliable foundation upon which innovation can be built.
In a first class example of data visualisation, Christchurch SmartView pull together data from a range of courses including parking, cycle counters, bus network, scooters, cycle tracks, news, events and weather. The city is in the citizens’ pockets.
“The programme is committed to creating sustainable innovation not just at Christchurch City Council but at the city level,” Mr Healy explained. “If we can demonstrate how effective these 21st century approaches to things like crowdsourcing data, participatory democracy and citizen science really are, it will have a flow-on effect across the city.”
Hear first hand from Michael Healy about rebuilding Christchurch as a smart city at the 3rd Annual Revitalising Town & City Centres conference, being held in Sydney from 12 – 13 May 2020.
The conference will tackle the challenges of placemaking and city activation to improve public environments and boost local economies. Attendees will learn how to engage the community for greater public ownership of place, improve government and cross-council collaboration as well as innovate for smarter city initiatives.