Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
image

Significant urban policy and planning efforts have been directed at the problem of rising heat in cities.

“Smart” cities create new relationships and interdependencies between people, technology and urban environments. The concept rests on the efficient, responsive and adaptive capacities of urban infrastructure. But how well does the smart city respond to the devastating scale and impact of urban heat threats such as bushfires and heatwaves?

The Australian Medical Association has warned heat is a “silent killer”. It notes that more Australians die each year due to heat than on the roads. Heatwaves have contributed to more deaths in Australia than any other natural disaster.

Bushfires are also expected to increase, with significant impacts on Australian cities and urban communities such as the greater Melbourne region.

This is a pressing issue for Australian cities and urban regions, at a time when Australian climatologists are warning of the increasing frequency, severity and duration of heatwaves and bushfires.

Smart urban infrastructure

New digital technology is entering cities, homes and workplaces. These are performing complex tasks. Self-driving cars and cashless payment systems are examples of significant change. But they also increase a city’s vulnerability in the event of a system breakdown or failure.

The ways that these dependencies make cities highly vulnerable during a crisis are poorly understood. For example, smartphone-enabled bushfire and heatwave warning systems are one of the key policy responses proposed and trialled as part of the smart city. But, the benefits and challenges of such responses are still largely unknown.

While the invisibility of smart city technology and infrastructure may rise to the surface and become exposed in the face of urban heat-related threats and crises, an array of important considerations lurk in the shadows.

These include financial arrangements, decision-making processes and discussions about security that are often imbued with statutory power, force and intent that work to inform and structure the experience of everyday urban life.

System resilience or collapse?

Smart systems are far from resilient. Outside their design range they are prone to sudden collapse. Any failure in energy or IT systems can lead to cascading crisis in the capacity for smart city responses to heat threats and disasters.

In a heatwave, as demand increases for cooling mechanisms such as air conditioning and refrigeration, an overloaded system may break down.

The rapid expansion of mobile and computer warning and alert systems could keep people more aware of risks. But, it also creates dependencies and a reliance on external agents for tasks we currently manage. The relationship between emergency communication processes and protocols is a key area whereby vertical, authorised and often-slow communications must interact with horizontal, real-time, networked and participatory processes.

The royal commission into Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires recommended that more efficient and effective use of technology was needed in key areas such as fire risk assessment, tracking and monitoring – particularly when different, incompatible systems were in use.

The commission highlighted widespread problems with communication technology, use and access due to system incompatibility, poor coverage, radio black spots and channel congestion. Under-investment in new technology was exacerbated when fire damaged or destroyed critical radio and telecommunications infrastructure.

An urgent cities agenda

Urban heat threats and disasters have an impact on the critical infrastructure that undergird the smart city response to such disasters and their associated technology, infrastructures and networked systems – namely in the areas of energy, water, ICT and transport.

The impacts are felt predominantly by those most vulnerable in the community: children, the elderly, the poor and people with existing health conditions.

Understanding the dynamism and tension of new technologies, networks and infrastructure is critical, particularly when urban systems are threatened or break down. Despite recognition of the complexity in smart city debates, policy and industry commentary places clear demarcations between the social and the technical.

There is an urgent need to develop new understandings and ways of implementing the potentials and possibilities the smart city presents in order to better tackle urban heat threats and disasters in Australia.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/hot-cities-the-smart-response-to-urban-heat-threats-55767

The top villa communities in Dubai

arrow_forward

Buying a home in Dubai: Package deals explained

arrow_forward

8 Undeniable Signs You Need a Knee Brace

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

$1.8 billion boost for local government

The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will deliver a $1.8 billion boost for road and community projects through local governments across Australia.   The package of support will help lo...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison press conference

PRIME MINISTER: This is a tough day for Australia, a very tough day. Almost 600,000 jobs have been lost, every one of them devastating for those Australians, for their families, for their commun...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

BOOST FOR BUSHFIRE RECOVERY

Local economic recovery plans will help towns and regions hit by bushfires get back on their feet as part of a new $650 million package of support from the Morrison Government.   As part of th...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Hotdesking might not be ‘dead’ after all

According to Christian Pistauer, Workplace Strategy director of Meta5 Group in Australia, COVID will dramatically change the commercial real estate sector in Australia for many years to come. ”...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Office expert: Don't bring your staff back to work until you have done these things

With lockdown restrictions gradually being eased across the country, Australian workplaces are looking at the types of changes needed in order to meet new health and wellness requirements post-l...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Major health and wellness brands sign-on to open at Yamanto Central

While COVID restrictions start to ease across the country, plans for Queensland’s newest shopping centre, Yamanto Central, ramp up. Due for completion in the first half of 2021, Yamanto Cent...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion