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Location-enabled Digital Technology: the Future of New Zealand’s Cities

New Zealand is looking to location-enabled digital tech to ensure its cities are as sustainable as they have to be. Such an approach has been affirmed by NZTech Chief Executive Graeme Muller. As such, the industry leader detailed that location-based technology should change the way New Zealanders function in the future.

As cities like Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Ōtautahi, Tauranga, Ōtepoti  and Kirikiriroa expand, leaders are considering sustainability as a key driver, he said. Further, he explained that changing needs means cities have to be adaptable.

We are redefining what a city is and how we interact within it. With urban population growth, a pandemic, and a housing crisis to boot, it’s evident that our buildings, infrastructure, transport and resource management need to become more adaptable.

– Graeme Muller, Chief, NZTech 

This is where location-based digital technology features prominently. The rise in location-enabled techs such as augmented reality, space data and GeoAI could change the way we live in the future. Tech can play its part in building adaptable and sustainable cities. Knowing the country’s growing need to be sustainable, the government helped form an industry body called LocationtechNZ, an integral part of the NZTech Alliance umbrella.

The unique digital approach has been acknowledged as pivotal. Alison Mackie, executive director of LocationTechNZ, detailed that new location-based technologies like Wellington’s Digital Twins will be key to helping New Zealand towns big and small deal with problems like traffic congestion, resource management and air pollution. The Internet of Things is central to how Wellington’s digital counterpart functions as reported on OpenGov Asia.

Location-based digital technology will allow the cities in the world to meet rising challenges. By 2050, it is estimated that almost 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities, making the concept of sustainable communities an efficient resolution to the growing population.

The world is seeing people innovating with location-based technologies to help tackle challenges such as congestion and climate change. With an ever-increasing global population and rising urbanisation, creating safe, resilient and sustainable cities is right at the top of the agenda.

– Alison Mackie, Executive Director, LocationTechNZ

Mackie showed how location-based digital tech can make a difference. First, she detailed that sustainability in towns and cities includes ensuring community safety and security; maintaining a high quality of life for all residents, and establishing a robust economic and environmental framework for continued settlement.

She explained that there are examples around the world of digital tech creating faster, cleaner and more convenient commutes. In Israel, users enter their location and destination, and an algorithm calculates the most efficient journey. Public transport is then rerouted accordingly. The system was introduced to help fight COVID, but if implemented permanently it’s estimated to save US$ 25 million a year.

In New Zealand, location-based apps have been developed over the years designed to reduce congestion, enable carpooling and improve parking. In fact, Auckland recently ranked 9th in the 2021 Global Smart City Index and Wellington ranked 7th in the 2021 Global Safe City Index.

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