AHURI Research Webinar Series

Smart cities and affordable housing

Wednesday 2 September 2020 at 2:00pm (AEST)

View the video recording

View the presentation slides

About the event

Internationally, a key driver for the popularity of smart city initiatives has been their potential to deliver economic benefits for cities and their governments, businesses, and citizens, and their ability to increase a city’s competitiveness locally and internationally. However, if workers—particularly fledgling entrepreneurs with great skills but little income—are unable to find affordable housing within easy reach of the technological innovation districts in ‘Smart Cities’, they are less likely to seek employment there, which in turn reduces the economic competitiveness of those districts.

This free webinar presented the findings from a new AHURI research project — ‘Affordable housing in innovation-led employment strategies — led by Professor Robyn Dowling, University of Sydney. Following the research presentation, the report author participated in a discussion with AHURI’s Executive Director Dr Michael Fotheringham took questions from the audience.

This study examines the role of affordable rental housing in supporting innovation-led employment growth in Australia’s metropolitan and satellite cities. The research looks to solutions through a number of case studies of innovation district developments both in Australia and overseas, including Kings Cross in the UK and Tonsley in South Australia.

In this 90 minute webinar you will learn about:

  • Smart city governance across Australian cities that involves innovation-led employment strategies, particularly mobilised through innovation districts
  • The contribution of well-connected regional and non-metropolitan areas with affordable housing to innovation-led employment strategies
  • How these employment strategies should engage with questions of housing affordability, availability and diversity.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support of our sponsor for this webinar – the Housing Industry Association.



Robyn DowlingProfessor Robyn Dowling, The University of Sydney

Robyn joined the School of Architecture, Design and Planning in 2016, bringing with her longstanding research in urbanism. Her current research is concerned with the ways in which urban governance and urban life are responding to climate change and technological disruptions.

Funded by a number of ARC Discovery grants in collaboration with Professor Pauline McGuirk of the University of Wollongong, she builds upon the foundations of urban planning to explore the partnerships and complex relationships through which contemporary cities are governed, and most recently the notion of smart cities. A related project is documenting the new forms of autonomous mobility that are being forged in cities, and in particular car sharing and the challenged posed by autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars).


Adam BeckAdam Beck, Executive Director, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand; Secretariat, Centre for Data Leadership

Adam is an urbanist who has worked for private sector consultancies and leading global non-government organisations to advance sustainable community outcomes for the past 25 years. As Executive Director with the Smart Cities Council, he works with the world’s longest running smart cities organisation focussed on catalysing investment in technology and data to accelerate liveability, workability and sustainability. Adam is also Secretariat for the SCC’s major initiative – the Centre for Data Leadership. In this capacity is curates industry engagement and knowledge resources development around the key elements of data leadership; purpose, privacy, security, ethics and governance.

Prior to this Adam was Director of Innovation at EcoDistricts, where developed a collaborative governance model for urban regeneration across North America and beyond. Adam was also Executive Director at the Green Building Council of Australia where is facilitated the creation of the Green Star Communities certification system for sustainable urban development. Before entering the mission-driven sector, Adam spent 15 years with global consulting firms, including almost a decade with Arup. Adam spent time in academia as a lecturer and studio lead in social impact assessment and community engagement at the University of Queensland.

Adam holds advisory positions with the Swinburne Smart Cities Institute and the University of Adelaide’s Australian Smart Cities Consortium. He is also Vice Chair of the Smart Cities Workstream for the Internet of Things Alliance Australia and holds a position on the Australian Government’s Cities Reference Group.


Michael FotheringhamDr Michael Fotheringham, Executive Director, AHURI (facilitator)

Michael is a research and policy development specialist with experience in a wide range of areas including housing and homelessness, public health, urban and community services planning. After joining the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in 2014, he was appointed Executive Director in 2017 and is now responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Institute and leading the development of a contemporary and policy relevant evidence-base on housing, homelessness and urban issues.

Michael has expertise in building research programs and policy agendas with not-for-profit, government and academic organisations. He currently serves on a variety of expert advisory panels including the Australian Government’s Smart Cities Reference Group, the Housing Supply Expert Panel, the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Research Alliance, The Urban Futures and Sustainable Living Expert Research Advisory Group, and the Homes for Homes Housing Advisory Group.


Maintaining housing supply in every part of the housing spectrum, from public to private, is the key to supporting access to safe, decent and affordable housing options for all Australians. HIA’s members are engaged every day to build these homes. The growth in smart cities and the future innovation in housing is something on the mind of all home builders and their customers. Supporting this webinar provides a way to engage with AHURI’s stakeholders to understand the challenges of achieving housing supply across the housing spectrum and to identify potential actions to improve this outcome.