The Future of the Smart Precinct

Like many other sectors, property is undergoing a radical change, as new technology disrupts and permeates every aspect of the industry. Much of this change is being driven by start-ups, many of whom are joining forces with developers and other established organisations to provide innovative technologies, or challenge conventions to improve processes and drive the industry forward. This trend is known as PropTech.
PropTech and other advances in technology are rapidly changing the way buildings and cities are designed and developed, while also impacting the way humans interact with the built environment.
At Mirvac, we are exploring smart precincts and their role in our future cities. Smart precincts are digitally enabled, mixed-use urban districts that combine the latest technologies and smart services with new property and place-making strategies to provide collaboration and innovation.
In our new discussion paper, The Future of the Smart Precinct, Mirvac, together with WORKTECH Academy, has explored this trend and the impact of city-wide innovation as a predictor for the future of our workplaces and cities.
Smart precincts
Mirvac is working to deliver a smart precinct at its Australian Technology Park (ATP) at Eveleigh in Sydney. Mirvac is transforming the precinct with the aim of creating an advanced workspace-led innovation district for the tech economy by 2020.
Technology is playing a crucial role at ATP, with testbeds to be integrated throughout the site to generate data and inform the improvement of the precinct, for example:

  • Connected community: A network will be created to allow people to stay connected and transition seamlessly through the precinct. A living lab will also be created to open up data for the community to use and test new ideas.
  • Sharing economy: Shared spaces will be set up to enable an innovation precinct and shared learnings.
  • Rooftop farm: One of the first rooftop farms in Australia will provide access to locally grown produce. Sensors will monitor food production and yield, while providing real-time data for the community.

At ATP, Mirvac is also working with a tech provider to deliver a makerspace for start-ups and scale-ups to prototype and test their ideas. Start-ups can’t often afford to hire a space and equipment to test their projects, so spaces like this are essential to facilitate their advancement.
Testbeds for PropTech
Through the generation of data, smart precincts have the potential to become testbeds for urban innovation and can help foster the growth of PropTech and other new technologies in Australia. Testbeds provide the right tools for innovation and allow startups to work out which new ideas and technology will be viable.
Mirvac is committed to advancing Australia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting the growth of start-ups and new technologies with Hoist. Hoist is an independent private company focused on solving the rapidly changing nature and function of work and workspaces.
A first-of-its-kind, Hoist will see the creation and curation of high-impact innovation precincts at Mirvac’s developments and assets nationally. Hoist uses an ‘outside-in’ approach that bridges the divide between diverse communities of start-ups, scale-ups, corporates and academia to drive the commercialisation of new business models and disruptive technologies. Mirvac is aiming to roll out this initiative throughout Australia to provide more opportunities for start-ups to grow in the property industry.
Hoist has already helped to grow start-ups such as Evergen, an energy services company that manages intelligent home energy systems comprising solar power, batteries and intelligent energy management developed by CSIRO.
Evergen is an example of the intersection of PropTech and environmental tech, where start-ups are helping to improve sustainability initiatives in the property industry. With sustainability now ubiquitous in new developments, this trend is set to increase, driving the planning and implementation of more sustainable smart precincts.
Hoist is also supporting retail tech, offering the winner of the Retail Pitch Fest a space at Hoist for three months. The competition, sponsored by Mirvac Retail and Inside Retail, saw Shop You win a competitive pitch process for their app that combines artificial intelligence and personal shopping data to customise and propose clothing options for users.
With new technology being developed all the time, there is potential for developers, councils, government and city planners to be overwhelmed by the endless possibilities for our cities. An important consideration when designing a smart precinct, however, is to ensure a balance between the human experience and the rise of technology to create vibrant, collaborative and inclusive places for generations to come – a vision we are committed to bringing to life at ATP.
This article is written by Paul Edwards, General Manager Workplace Experiences , Mirvac.