Published: September 07, 2015

INNOVATIVE solutions to energy saving street lights and user friendly parking meters are two pilot programs being developed in Adelaide with support from technology giant Cisco.

It comes as greater Adelaide has been named as an Innovative Regions Award finalist in the Australian Technologies Competition.

Both developments echo the positive groundswell in Adelaide’s technology sector and further develop the state’s legacy, industry leaders say.

“Adelaide is a very connected city and has a strong pedigree in technology innovation – we were the first city in the southern hemisphere with an operational 3G network,” science and technology commercialization consultant Paul Daly said.

“We were also one of the first cities in the world with a large scale public WiFi network and we have been pioneers in the development of mobile applications and services.

“There’s a real optimism and drive from a group of people who have the view to ‘just do it’ and test innovative ideas.

“People are now realisng that we can’t rely on traditional industries to sustain our economic wellbeing.”

Mr Daly, who authored Adelaide’s submission to the Australian Technologies Competition, said one of the industry’s greatest achievements was to create a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs.

Mr Daly is also convenor of the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Forum through which he created the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Map.  Today it lists 109 support programs for emerging businesses; a significant jump on the 40 programs documented two years ago.

“There are a lot of people giving back as mentors – a lot of leadership and a huge amount of experience sharing,” Mr Daly said.

“There are pathways for people to move from one program to another, and the people running those programs are collaborating and working together, rather than competing.”

Infrastructure such as the AdelaideFree WiFi network, 14 coworking spaces and specialized innovation centres are also playing a key role in enabling tech startups to launch their businesses.

Yet it is the backing of global leaders such as Microsoft, HP and Cisco that exponentially multiplies Adelaide’s reputation as a tech-forward city.

Earlier this year Cisco named Adelaide as Australia’s first Lighthouse City – a mantle that grants access to the company’s global network and supports business and technology partnerships in the city via intellectual backing and network infrastructure.

This came as Cisco, the City of Adelaide and State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop Australia’s first “Internet of Things” innovation hub.

The Lighthouse City title is a way to describe smart spaces, such as cities, that harness the ability of equipment, sensors and devices that “talk” with one another. One urban example is in Songdo, South Korea, the original “smart city”, where underground traffic sensors detect traffic conditions and alter traffic signals based on congestion; they connect to cars via radio identification tags that report gridlock.

As a Lighthouse City Adelaide will have support to develop and pilot new urban services and solutions that could have a global impact on customer and citizen experiences in the city. For example, this could mean a new way to make payments to the Council, new technology to complete everyday services such as rubbish collection or street sweeping or data collection to track community habits and needs.

Cisco’s President of Smart+Connected Communities Dr Anil Menon said Adelaide would be positioned as an international trailblazer in years to come.

“Building an effective ecosystem in a city already recognized for its connectedness will enable other cities around Australia and the Asia Pacific to see the benefits firsthand,” Dr Menon said.

Other Cisco Lighthouse Cities include Barcelona, Chicago and Dubai.

Cisco claims the Internet of Things has the potential to be worth $19 trillion over the next 10 years, not just in market spend but in savings from better use of assets and increased employee productivity.

The City of Adelaide committed $250,000 to the partnership to develop the two smart city trials.

“Both projects will be about making the city safer, easier to get around and more welcoming for our visitors and residents alike, with the ultimate aim being able to generate a return on investment for our ratepayers that can be put back into other services,” Lord Mayor Martin Haese said.