Like something out of a science fiction movie, Celestino’s $5B Sydney Science Park is set to be a world-first in the scientific community. In partnership with private industry and universities, and driven by the new Aerotropolis, the park will be an international epicentre for scientific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and R&D and is set to be Australia’s first smart city.
The park will be located on a 280-hectare site in Penrith, Western Sydney, adjacent to the new Aerotropolis, and accessible via the proposed South West Rail Link. Upon completion, it is expected to deliver over 12,000 smart jobs, thousands of homes and education to more than 10,000 students.
“We’re creating an ecosystem that will house some of the nation’s leading scientific institutions and providing educational opportunities for Western Sydney, such as our STEM school, that hasn’t been seen before…” – Celestino Chief Executive John Vassallo
Driven by the Aerotropolis, Western Sydney is fast becoming Australia’s economic powerhouse, and the Sydney Science Park is a real example of the types of opportunities opening up as a result of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.
“…we’re proud to be the first to turn our vision, into a reality.” – Celestino Chief Executive John Vassallo
The Sydney Science Park is set to be Australia’s first smart city, with a major focus on research and development as well as commercialisation of autonomous vehicles.
What is a Smart City?
The city will be a cohesive collaborative community where autonomous vehicles communicate with traffic lights and have sensors to identify pedestrians, cyclists and animals; smart roads collect rainwater; and aged care facilities transmit information about residents to hospitals.
Imagine drones delivering antibiotics to people unable to leave their homes; room sensors monitoring the movements of sick or elderly residents; being triaged through artificial intelligence and then driven to hospital by automated vehicles. Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. But this will be a reality in Sydney’s West in the not so distant future and it’s an exciting time.
Smart cities are rapidly evolving and tackling old problems in new ways, such as urban planning, sustainable energy, transport strategies, social integration and talent attraction. As global leaders assess, design, implement, and improve their cities, they are confronted with a plethora of obstacles to very difficult problems such as traffic congestion, waste management, and crime.
What is more, with the green and sustainable living movements gathering momentum, quality of life (including not just environment, safety, access to health and education services, but also mobility and social interaction) is fast becoming a challenging aspiration for the global smart city.
Which City is Currently the Smartest City?
In partnership with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the IMD World Competitiveness Center’s Smart City Observatory recently presented the first edition of the IMD Smart City Index 2019, which ranked 102 global cities. Topping the list of smartest city in the world was Singapore following by Zurich then Oslo.
The only global index of its kind, the IMD Smart City Index 2019 uniquely focuses on how citizens perceive the scope and impact of efforts to make their cities ‘smart’, balancing “economic and technological aspects” with “humane dimensions”.
As for Australian cities, Sydney came in 14th place. Melbourne was 24th and Brisbane was 27th. However, one should naturally approach the results of any study with caution where the winner is the sponsor of the study.
According to the Sydney Business Chamber, an aerotropolis is a metropolitan sub-region with an airport as the epicentre for its surrounding infrastructure, land-use, and economy. It consists of the typical elements associated with an airport together with outlying corridors, clusters of aviation-associated businesses and residential developments, all feeding off each other and their association with the airport.
The Aerotropolis is set to provide businesses with efficient and rapid connectivity to their suppliers, consumers, and industry partners, both nationally and globally.
“We are now seeing the economic impact of the Western Sydney Airport in full effect”, Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown said.
The initial stage of development at Sydney Science Park includes a combination of commercial, residential, educational and open spaces, including over 170 homes, a one-acre central park and NSW’s first “pre-post” STEM school, all focused around the new business epicentre created by the forthcoming Aerotropolis. Construction of the airport commenced on 24 September 2018 with early earthworks now underway.
NSW’s first STEM-focused school was officially announced by the Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian in March 2017 and will be the educational epicentre for the Sydney Science Park. This exciting new STEM based learning environment will offer cutting-edge educational opportunities unrivalled in Australia.
The school, which will be funded and run by Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP), will be the first of its kind in Australia providing “pre to post” (preschool to beyond Year 12) STEM education in exciting emerging areas (such as how to code robots, liaise with NASA space stations and discover the latest in IT programming).
As the cornerstone of the Sydney Science Park community, and with a strong focus on STEM, the CEDP school will be able to connect physically and virtually with other schools, students and education providers, both locally and globally, by drawing on the resources of businesses, research organisations, educational institutions and community groups within Sydney Science Park and the collaborative environment fostered by the park.
The school will be an educational hub for the Science Park and will engage with the life and work of the community in a way that other schools do not. The school and the community will have shared facilities, business-educational partnerships, and the school will collaborate with the community to tackle real-world problems. The vision is to prepare students for the STEM-focused knowledge jobs of the future. The communities’ engagement with the school will provide mentoring and internship opportunities for students to apply their learning to real life situations within and beyond the Science Park.
“This school will also work with post-school institutions to provide direct enrolment to their courses rather than access via the traditional HSC/ATAR pathway.” – CEDP Executive Director Greg Whitby
Planning and Constructing the Smart City
It is not very often a country gets to build a city completely from scratch from a greenfield site and this is an exciting opportunity for Western Sydney to lead the way in collaborative thinking and planning.
In setting the scene for the culture of the city, Celestino and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) joined forces with transport and infrastructure experts to create a collaborative think tank discussing how autonomous vehicle use could be built into the new smart city. More than 30 companies participated in the planning event, including the likes of Hyundai, Bosch and Westfield.
The first phase of the precinct will include 3400 homes, a 30,000-square-metre retail centre, 340,000sq m of commercial space and 100,000sq m for education.
With construction underway since August 2018, the first commercial buildings in the Science Park along with the STEM school are expected to be operational as soon as early 2021, with residents expected to start arriving by mid-2021.
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