Today, it’s a dated pedestrian mall sorely in need of an upgrade, but in the not-too-distant future Charlestown’s Pearson Street Mall will be a vibrant public space and a focus of Lake Macquarie’s Smart City evolution.
Lake Macquarie City Council is planning to transform the mall outside Hilltop Plaza as part of the Charlestown Innovation Precinct, or ChIP for short. It will be an activated place where people can not only eat, meet, work and play but connect to wifi and experiment with new technologies such as ‘plug and play’ outdoor digital kiosks and virtual graffiti walls. Or, perhaps check when the next bus is due using live maps with real-time timetable updates.
ChIP will also become a regional test bed for an innovative environmental data-gathering system being developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Council and UTS were successful last week in winning funding from the Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program to roll out the university’s Technology for Urban Liveability Project (TULIP) on the Pearson Street site as part of the mall upgrade.
TULIP is a UTS-led collaboration between communities, government, industry, researchers, environmental and knowledge-based organisations to build healthier, more liveable urban neighbourhoods that are clean, cool and quiet. Based on an Internet of Things technology called LoRaWAN™ – a Low Power Wide Area Network – TULIP will use a network of wireless sensors to deliver data on urban heat, air quality and noise that will provide the council with valuable information to guide city planning.
TULIP will also open opportunities for the community to connect their own sensors, collect data and share with each other and the council.
The City of Sydney is another program partner and pilot precinct for TULIP. Test devices installed around the Broadway, Haymarket and Redfern areas of Sydney are already transmitting data and, in future, members of the community will be able to participate in the information exchange.
As lead partner with the UTS on the TULIP Regional City Case Study program, Lake Macquarie will be the first regional area to benefit from this new technology. The project was one of just 52 from 176 applications that were awarded funding under the $28.5 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, with the Federal Government committing $433,000.
This funding highlights the success of the Lake Mac Smart City, Smart Council Digital Economy Strategy 2016-2020, which aims to position the city for the future and embrace the opportunity to become a more connected, progressive and sustainable regional centre through collaboration.
The council has committed $2 million to upgrading Pearson Street Mall and the Smart Cities and Suburbs grant will enhance the technology component of the project.
The council is keen to find out what the community would like to see in the upgrades to Pearson Street Mall and the wider Charlestown Innovation Precinct. To help people imagine what it could look like in the future, we are staging ChIPfest, a free pop-up event filled with food trucks, technology and live music and more, today from 5pm to 8.30pm.
I encourage people who live, work or play in Charlestown to come along, share ideas, and find out more about plans to reinvent Pearson Street Mall. Further information: shape.lakemac.com.au/CHIP.