Data could be key to transforming cities

·2-min read

Making real-time weather and foot traffic data accessible to people could transform cities into more liveable spaces, a new study says.

Researchers from Monash University's Emerging Technologies Research Lab worked with the City of Melbourne to analyse how such data can be gathered and used in cities across the country.

Currently, the City of Melbourne uses sensors to collect information on the weather and climate, pedestrian numbers, and how facilities like bins and toilets are used.

That data is not always accessible to the public but making it so could transform the city, ETLab Director Professor Sarah Pink said.

"It could tell local people if they needed to put sunscreen on before they went to the park or if they needed to take an umbrella," Prof Pink told AAP.

"One of our participants said it could tell him how many people are walking past his shop so he could anticipate business.

"All of those very practical things that are so fundamental in our everyday lives."

The data would be shared with the community through QR codes or engaging signs and sculptures around the city.

Sharing the information publicly would improve transparency and ensure people can feel safe, trusted and informed, Prof Pink said.

"We need to make city data part of people's lives and make people appreciate it, rather than something that's kind of invisible and a little bit unknown," she said.

As part of the Melbourne study, the researchers developed a framework for gathering and sharing data that could be applied to other cities across the country.

"Our work is all about aligning the city values with the community values and using those values to guide the way that data is used," she said.

"Making those values visible can really transform the way we experience and live in a city."