The Future of: Smart Cities & The Internet of Things

Featuring Professor Pascal Perez

“The Future Of…” series asks a variety of UOW experts and researchers the same five questions, to provide insight into the potential future states of our lives, communities and world.

Senior Professor Pascal Perez is a world leader in participatory modelling of complex systems. He is the co-editor of ‘Complex Science for a Complex World – Exploring Human Ecosystems with Agents” (ANU-E-Press). Before joining the University of Wollongong, he has been a Team Leader at CSIRO and an Associate Professor at the Australian National University. Senior Professor Pascal Perez has 20 years experience working in South East Asia, Western Africa, Pacific Island Countries and Australia

He is responsible for the management and delivery of all aspects of infrastructure modelling and simulation at the SMART Infrastructure Facility. As Director he is responsible for SMART’s academic governance and for establishing strategic scientific partnerships in Australia and beyond. He holds interest in the key research fields of agent based modelling technology, urban liveability, infrastructure planning, regional development smart cities and infrastructure.

What are you researching or working on in 2018?

In 2018, the SMART Infrastructure Facility will continue developing solutions for smart cities and smart communities. The regional Internet-of –Things network we deployed last year across the Illawarra is now operational. We are now looking at many application projects being implemented this year, ranging from efficiency gains for our local Councils to community-oriented solutions. We will also support Liverpool City Council in implementing their Commonwealth-funded Smart City and Suburb project, focusing on urban mobility and exposure to air pollution.

In regards to your field of study or expertise what are some of the most innovative or exciting things emerging over the next few years?

The Internet-of-Things has become a world-wide technological reality. To become the revolution that the IT industry is predicting, we need to engage citizens onto the journey. Smart cities have to be about smart people, otherwise, they will become fad cities. Thus, I think we will see the emergence of community-driven and people-oriented smart solutions that will correspond to actual needs. Open-source solutions will continue to grow, backed by organisations like The Things Network and innovations like blockchain technology for the IoT, allowing peer-to-peer transactions.

In regards to your field of study or expertise what are some of the things readers should be cautious/wary of over the next few years?

The current state-of-play of smart cities in Australia is a rapidly changing, disjointed and industry-driven landscape. The smart thing to do is not to rush into a solution now that might be obsolete or superseded tomorrow. Besides, there is nothing ‘smart’ – in a cognitive sense – about the Internet-of-Things; it just channels very fast a large amount of data about anything and from anywhere…what is potentially smart is the way we – people – use this new kind of information.

Where do you believe major opportunities lie for youth thinking about future career options?

Programming is (again!) the new black! Not traditional computer programming we’ve been teaching over the last 30 years…no, programming these new ‘smart’ sensors in order for them not only to transfer useful information but also to be energy efficient.

In regards to your field of study or expertise, what is the best piece of advice you could offer to our readers?

Come and see us! Our SMART IoT Hub (room 6.209A) is an open space where anyone can come to exchange information, demonstrate solutions, prototype new ideas. Our motto: “Build it, Hack it, Share it!”

For more from Professor Pascal Perez you can visit his UOW Scholars profile, which links to his papers and publications.

Professor Perez also presented at TEDxUWollongong View it here