World’s first lab for future city planning opens at UNSW

The University of NSW is now home to the “world’s first laboratory dedicated to improving collaboration and information-sharing among agencies responsible for planning and designing smarter, more liveable future cities.”

The City Analytics Lab was launched 2 May by Paul Fletcher, the federal minister for cities, and sits within the UNSW Built Environment department.

Chris Pettit, UNSW’s inaugural professor of urban science, said that the lab would facilitate the sharing of data between agencies and organizations that can be used to inform the planning of more liveable and productive cities.

“The Lab brings down the barriers for information sharing, engaging with data, models and simulations,” he said.

“This is a room that supports the multidisciplinary approach that is required when you are looking at cities. Cities are not run by one department, one agency or one group. We are trying to get people working together on the same page.”

UNSW has also begun offering a Master of City Analytics program in 2018, which will teach students to use data to unpick the issues affecting Australia’s increasingly crowded cities.

“By 2020 there will be 50 billion devices connected to the internet using around 44 zetabytes of data,” said Pettit.

“Much of this data can be harnessed to plan our cities better. With the global population predicted to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030 and 60 percent of those people forecast to live in cities, urban planners who can rapidly interpret this sort of digital information are already in high demand.“

The course will “equip students with the skills to analyse big data and open data, as well as develop a comprehensive understanding of geodesign, geocomputation, scientific programming, modeling and simulation, visualization and virtual reality.”

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