City of Newcastle

Innovative Technology is helping Newcastle to become a smarter smart city

Overview

Newcastle has a strategy to become a smart city to improve community amenity, promote innovation and investment, efficiently deliver services, create a sustainable environment and attract people, visitors and talent. Technology is a key enabler for its smart city services and strategy.

As part of their smart city strategy, Newcastle worked with Engagis to deploy two interactive wayfinding kiosks or ‘smart screens’ to allow locals and visitors find places of interest, current events and navigate their way around the city more easily.

Newcastle is leading the way in smart city deployment

The City of Newcastle was a joint winner in the Smart Cities Awards 2019 for a metropolitan city of over 100,00 residents for the best use and implementation of technologies and processes to enhance the overall operability and living experience within their city. It’s a significant repositioning for a city that has been more well-known for its coal.

Newcastle’s smart city vision is being delivered through a portfolio of projects, each enabled by a common technology platform. The portfolio of smart city projects includes a solar power farm; electric vehicle charging stations; bike sharing initiatives; free wi-f; smart bin sensors that give an alert when a bin needs emptying; LED street lighting to reduce carbon emissions, a fibre data network to support IoT (Internet of Things) applications and moisture sensors for efficient irrigation.

Smart screens for wayfinding and information

Working with Engagis, Newcastle installed two touchscreen, interactive kiosks (55”, touchscreen, portrait): one at the visitor centre near Civic station and Museum Park and the other at Market Street lawn.

City of Newcastle 1

Locals and visitors can filter a search based on what they are interested in, eg, cafes, beaches, entertainment, parks, hotels or cultural attractions, and the kiosk will direct them to their chosen destination.

When the kiosks are not in use for wayfinding, they can show history videos, ‘what’s on’ and general tourist information.

Newcastle consciously didn’t want to have third party advertising on the kiosks as this would be a distraction and take away from the sole purpose of providing a service.

How are the smart screens helping Newcastle become a smarter smart city?

The smart screens in Newcastle are a key part of their smart city deployment. Much of the new technology in Newcastle, while smart, is not visible. The smart screens however, are highly visible, beautiful looking, intuitive to use and create tangible evidence of a modern city. And because the kiosks are so visible, they encourage both locals and visitors to make the most out of the local area because events and points of interest are highlighted.

While Newcastle has a visitor information centre, it is only open during particular daytime hours, plus, like the automatic checkout at the supermarket, some people prefer self service and self discovery, so the smart screens offer choice and complement the existing visitor information service.

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