How major events drive the smart city agenda


5 Ways Major Events drive the smart city agenda


Delivery of major sporting events such as Olympics and Commonwealth Games leads to significant investment in the Host City and incredible collaboration and improved governance between Government organisations. The Gold Coast has been no different in the planning and delivery of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018). The legacy (or otherwise) of delivering a Games is well documented, however awareness is growing regarding the opportunity to catalyse Host City smart city objectives and this has certainly been the case on the Gold Coast for GC2018 in the following five ways. 

1. Smart City Infrastructure Delivery – All Host Cities require a program of capital works delivery to be Games ready. On the Gold Coast this has led to the delivery of new and upgraded sporting venues, public realm, light rail, roads and festival sites. The increased uplift in public transport infrastructure in conjunction with the travel demand messaging has led to increased public transport use and active transport which will surely be a legacy of the Games.

In addition, the City has invested in a backbone of ultra-high speed optic fibre to serve the City’s business community and residents. Visitors to the City are able to access this free at strategically located Wi-Fi spots and surplus bandwidth will be sold off to other carriers to fund further investment. This will benefit efforts to drive knowledge industry investment along the light rail corridor. It will also support the City’s IoT ambitions in conjunction with the intended roll out of 5G technology being promoted during the Games by leading Australian telecommunication companies including Telstra and Optus.

2. Innovative Civic Engagement – Preparation and delivery of any Games requires a constant and authentic dialogue with the residential and business community regarding issues such as impact awareness and travel management. Whilst traditional engagement methods are used during the Games, other strategies adopted include use of beacons in public realm which deliver messages via Bluetooth to mobile devices and push notifications to people who have downloaded Games apps. This provides targeted locational information to the community that clearly has broader application for Cities in the future. 

This in conjunction with real time monitoring of and responding to social media feeds provide a real time engagement between government and the community and sets a framework for the City post Games.

3. Better Use of Existing Data – In delivering an enormous scope of works with a finite budget, data and the sharing of data presents opportunity to reduce costs and improve Games delivery. This has certainly been the case with spatial data with an emphasis being made on using a cloud-based mapping system to share spatial data. This enables real-time changes to be monitored by government and public utility providers remotely which undoubtedly represents the future of city operations, asset management and infrastructure delivery.

In addition, innovative companies such as Neighbourlytics are using social data feeds to understand people’s movements and moods during and after the Games to better understand social habits and pedestrian activity. The analysis of this will benefit the City through improved built form, public space design and economic development strategy and provide a blue print for the use of social data in the future.

Significant investment has also occurred at the local government level to streamline digital delivery and provide a single customer view. This has resulted in customers enjoying increased digital service options and government building an improved understanding of the City’s customers.

4. Improved City Safety Technology – As each Games passes, safety and security becomes a more expensive and complex issue. GC2018 has been no different with an enormous security workforce being deployed and a significant uplift occurring in closed circuit television (CCTV) for public safety, asset protection and traffic management.

In addition there have been improvements made to operations centres focussed on security, transport, city operations and disaster management. All have a focus on sharing CCTV imagery, real time spatial information and integrating information reporting systems.

5. Optimising Agglomeration Potential – One of the largest efforts for Olympic and Commonwealth Games organisers is the development of a village to house athletes and officials. In recent Games the Athlete’s Village has driven urban regeneration however on the Gold Coast the Village has been built within the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct with the purpose of ensuring symbiotic knowledge industry land uses.

This precinct has been developed as a health and innovation hub hosting a research hospital, private hospital and university and research facilities and is connected to the CBD by light rail. Delivery of the Athlete’s Village fast tracked the commercial and residential elements of the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct by decades to catalyse the benefits of agglomeration of cooperative land uses.


This is an exciting time for Cities delivering large scale sporting events such as Olympics and Commonwealth Games and every effort should be made by Host Cities to ensure that Games investment leads to smarter Host Cities post Games. Including a smart city agenda during the bid process will optimise the opportunity for the Host City, organising committee and the private sector.