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Regions ready for smart spaces transformation

Submitted by Robyn Francis on October 23, 2023

NSW regional councils and their communities will benefit from the new Smart Regional Spaces education and digital tools, designed to supercharge smart transformation and empower regional areas to embrace ‘smart city’ principles.

Smart Regional Spaces: Ready, Set, Go! is available for all NSW regional councils, and follows a successful pilot undertaken earlier this year with Armidale Regional Council, Lithgow City Council and Parkes Shire Council. 

There is growing support for more data-driven and digitised solutions, and the Smart Regional Spaces initiative reaffirms the government’s commitment to grow regional digital capability.

Smart technologies can provide real-time data to improve decision making, examples include smart meters to gather waste management, water usage, and air quality data, sensor activated streetlights to save energy, or monitoring systems to help improve public safety.

Key components of this initiative include:

  • 12 online training modules to upskill council members and staff in mastering smart technology and processes and practices.
  • Site diagnostic tools to guide councils with strategic decision making, and the selection of the most effective smart solutions and locations for maximum impact.
  • An interactive digital smart strategy tool to assist councils in crafting tailored, locally relevant strategies for smart transformation.
  • Smart precedent case studies from around the world to inspire regional councils to enhance resilience, economic vitality, and resource efficiency.

Smart Regional Spaces: Ready, Set, Go! is available online at:

The education and digital tools are freely accessible and tailored to address the unique needs and challenges faced by regional communities.

Smart Regional Spaces is funded through the Digital Restart Fund, as part of the Smart Places Acceleration Program, with contributions from the University of Sydney, UNSW Sydney, and the Regional Digital Connectivity program. For more information visit:

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional NSW said:

“The Smart Regional Spaces program, developed by the University of Sydney and UNSW Sydney, complements a wide range of city-centric strategies already available through the NSW Government’s Smart Places Acceleration Program.

“The program seeks to empower regional investment in smart technologies to help address the digital inclusion divide that exists between those living in regional and urban areas.

“These cutting-edge digital tools and comprehensive education modules provide regional councils with the resources they need to unlock new opportunities and drive economic growth.

“Smart Regional Spaces is a game-changer for regional councils that may be uncertain about adopting new technologies or want assistance to select the right solution to address their area’s specific needs or challenges.”

The Project Leads for Smart Regional Spaces said:

“Smart technology solutions in planning, infrastructure and energy efficiency are already a reality in metropolitan cites – we want to position rural and regional areas to take full advantage of this movement by providing the tools, training and know-how to get them started or keep them moving.

“This project is a great example of two leading universities working together and alongside regional and rural local government areas to support these communities as they build smart capacities, future-proof their regions, and become ‘smart-ready’.

“We have been working together in the smart cities space since 2017, but wanted to shift the discourse to the regions and contribute to the efforts of decreasing the digital divide that exists between urban and rural Australia. We want to have a positive impact in regional NSW and beyond.”

·         Dr Nancy Marshall, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney

·         Dr Kate Bishop, Associate Professor in the School of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney

·         Dr Christine Steinmetz-Weiss, Associate Professor in the School of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney

Dean of the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney Professor Robyn Dowling said:

“Smart technology is ready to be expanded into the state’s regional communities in their governance processes, physical infrastructure, economic development strategies and thinking about the future drivers of change.”

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at UNSW, Professor Claire Annesley said:

“There are social, economic, and environmental advantages to embracing smart spaces but the challenges of dense urban living do not necessarily translate to regional spatial scales, assets and geographically dispersed communities.

“This project is an example of UNSW’s commitment to transforming the lives of people in regional communities who have unique needs, so it is critical to ensure the ideas are tailored to cater for them.”