Sharing data is not a common practice for often competing water, energy and waste providers.
But UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility director Pascal Perez and his team managed to persuade these stakeholders to do just that for the good of the Illawarra.
And on Tuesday he officially launched Vision Illawarra – the first regional platform in Australia that provides access to consistent and regularly updated data on transport, land use, economic growth and demographic change.
Professor Perez said the regional planning tool would help councils in the region and those stakeholders who have a keen interest in knowing how the region will develop in the future to access data to make evidence-based decisions.
“They won’t need to guess as the data will be there at their fingertips,” he said.
“And the beauty is this data is there for everybody to use, everyone to discover and everyone to share.”
Vision Illawarra is divided into two distinct areas. Vision Illawarra Dashboard is a free public site comprising recent economic, demographic, transport and land use figures as well as the evolution of utility usage over the last ten years.
Vision Illawarra Modelling Platform is a subscription-based platform which allows planners and policy makers to utilise the site to understand the holistic change that a planning or policy decision will bring to the regional setting.
Wollongong City Council general manager David Farmer is a Vision Illawarra fan.
“It’s an advancement of information and the more information you have got to make evidence-based decisions, the better,” Mr Farmer said.
“We are building a significant new community in West Dapto and we need to make sure we can use the best information possible to guide a whole range of ways we deliver service.
“The great strength of this is you can see what history is and you can see trends over time and you can also set targets about what you might want to be able to achieve as the communities develop.”
Prof Perez said Vision Illawarra achieves two objectives.
“It provides a one-stop shop of regularly updated data and models for various growth scenarios so we can collectively plan for the future of the region and create a place that supports employment and creates a great place to live,” he said.
Sydney Water, Endeavour Energy and Remondis provide the data for Vision Illawarra, which also enjoys the support of the region’s three councils Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.
It also has the backing of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Transport for NSW and IRIS Research.