Hobart recently released its “smart bin” trial that could see bins advise when they are full and need emptying outside the normal schedule. This is just one small example forming a potential overall economic impact of between $100 billion to over $200 billion from IoT per year by 2025, according to McKinsey research.

Being able to use such systems smoothly will require more bandwidth and IT infrastructure than your typical server room today. The data center of a building is set to become more complex and resource-intensive as applications for smart buildings continue to develop.

The location of this data center is more important than what it actually does. Keeping close to applications means that services can be designed effectively and decisions can be made in real time. Feedback is crucial to an efficient service.

We therefore need to start thinking about building design that allows for smart, modular data centers that will power a building’s digital assets.

Amsterdam’s The Edge

The city of Amsterdam plays host to one of the world’s smartest and greenest office spaces, known as The Edge. With 28,000 sensors tracking movement, lighting, humidity and temperature, it can even tell visitors how many parking spots are available, prepare the perfect coffee, or patrol the building at night for security.

While we can’t expect this high standard to be replicated at the drop of a hat, we can still use such examples as a benchmarking standard and allow ourselves to learn from this experience.

Most existing buildings weren’t designed with smart city applications or a data center in mind. In some cases we will need to assess how to integrate data centers into existing buildings and cities. The benefit here is that data centers have no need for views or natural light. They can also slot into a series of floors or behind existing office towers.


While we can help some existing buildings, its important that future buildings are designed with their own capacity in place so that they can quickly and easily deploy new services and applications as and when they need them.

Queensland’s Redland City Council has built a self-contained, eco-friendly data center as the foundation for IoT and smart city applications. Yet to operate at full capacity, the council has smart apps on its agenda and knows that it will need this capacity to operate effectively in the future.

Others need to follow this recipe so that they are ready for the likes of AI-enhanced security, smart heating, and facial recognition. In order to enable the connection to multiple apps and even five-to-ten devices that each person might carry, we must think and build smarter. In this way, we may end up with Australia as the hub of the smart city future.