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All About the Award-Winning Smart Cities Project
The judges describe the project as a “partnership driven and replicable approach to smart cities,” that quantifies the impact of street activation.
Below is a project summary:
The Numbers …
Garema Place is a grey and underused area surrounded by cafe and shops in the heart of Canberra CBD. #BackyardExperiment brought colour, movable furniture, lighting and lawn to the plaza for eight days.
Street Furniture Australia set up three time-lapse cameras to capture data before and during activation. Weekdays and weekend days were compared.
Data captured before and during activation.
Before activation, time-lapse footage confirmed Garema Place was a thoroughfare. A massive 97% of visitors passed through Garema Place on a typical weekday. Of the dwellers who spent time in the area, 98% were adults. From observation, most of these were from the street and homeless community.
The activation brought results. Time-lapse cameras recorded a 190% rise in foot traffic, and 247% more dwellers in the space. Demographic diversity also increased. Where before the experiment 98% of dwellers were adults, during the activation 264% more social groups (families, friends, couples), and an incredible 631% more children were seen enjoying the space.
Data comparison before and during the experiment.
The increase in foot traffic, dwellers and demographic diversity completely changed the nature of the space. Garema Place became a destination.
The Hashtag …
The hashtag #BackyardExperiment was used by visitors to share their experiences on social media. Local businesses also posted to invite customers to come to the space.
Social media listening formed part of the qualitative assessment of how the project was received. We saw word-of-mouth travel among Canberrans as the community engaged with the space in person and online.
There were frequent requests for the activation to stay longer than the eight days, and for more projects of its kind around the city.
Social media listening played an important role in gauging community response.
Community Effort …
The project would not have been possible without the generous contributions from more than 15 collaborators.
Small Project, Big Impact …
The story of #BackyardExperiment and the impact of relatively simple interventions on a thoroughfare and its community reached an international audience.
It featured on various media channels including ArchDaily, CityLab by The Atlantic, ABC Radio Canberra, Architecture&Design, The Canberra Times, Foreground, Outdoor Design Source and The Real Estate Conversation.
Download the free #BackyardExperiment White Paper (49 pages, 8MB).
Communities from Australia, the US, Denmark, South Africa, Poland, Italy and Canada published social posts and articles in English, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, French, Mandarin and Portuguese.
#BackyardExperiment was tweeted in numerous languages.
On the ground in Garema Place, interviewees told us the experiment had made a difference to locals for the eight days.
George, from the street community, said it brought him joy to be able to mix with different kinds of people.
“It’s been uplifting for the community, everyone now is joining together,” he told us.
“I come here every day. We need more of this, it is a good environment. It’s quite relaxing, you can talk to people, everyone mingles. I have enjoyed it, I think this is great.”
Caitlin Bladin, manager of City Activation team for Canberra’s City Renewal Authority, said, “During #BackyardExperiment I went to Garema Place nearly every day, to talk to people. It was amazing. The place and people in it were transformed.
“One man said he had come back time and time again because it improved his mood. Another woman said we had put a giant smiley face on the city.”
The findings of #BackyardExperiment have fed into Street Furniture Australia’s research and development program, with Australia’s first smart bench, PowerMe, released this year.
PowerMe is one of many innovations in the pipeline. Smart benches allow dwellers to make use of public places for longer – contacting loved ones, working and relaxing outdoors while staying connected to their networks, apps and city services.
R&D is crucial to new product development.
Version 2.0 of #BackyardExperiment is scheduled to launch in February 2019. The ACT government is preparing #WodenExperiment, which will activate Woden Town Square for a six-month period. This unique project will integrate tactical urbanism, user-centred design methodologies and smart technology in one project.
#WodenExperiment will commence February 2019.
Street Furniture Australia is also excited to partner with the University of New South Wales and Georges River Council to uncover the next level of smart city insights. The Smart Social Spaces project will deeply understand how street furniture data and sensors can be used to impact social health and how assets can managed in the digital environment.
Smart Social Spaces will uncover further smart city insights.
For more information or to request a CPD presentation, please contact email@example.com.
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Street Furniture Australia is honoured to be named winner of the Built Environment category at the inaugural Australian Smart Cities Awards in October 2018. These are the country’s first awards recognising leadership, best practice and action to advance the smart cities movement, evaluated by a seven-person jury chaired by David Singleton AM. The winners were announced at Smart Cities Week in Sydney, organised by the Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand. Street Furniture Australia received the Built Environment award for #BackyardExperiment, an eight-day activation of Garema Place, Canberra, which took place in October 2016. It was a small project that made a big impact. By adopting a people-first approach and quantifying the impact of design, the method of activation became an international case study. #BackyardExperiment was one of Australia’s first …
60 movable seats. 8 days. 1 location. Time-lapse footage from the #BackyardExperiment pop-up park in Garema Place, an underused thoroughfare in Canberra’s CBD, has revealed stunning findings about the power of small interventions to transform public space. A 10-Minute Documentary (below) and White Paper are available now. Download the FREE White Paper: #BackyardExperiment (49 pages, 8MB) Before #BackyardExperiment, 97% of visitors passed through the grey, hard Garema Place without stopping. The project softened the space with colour, lawn, seating and light, and, in just eight days, Visitor numbers almost doubled. Street Furniture Australia partnered with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the ACT Government, In the City Canberra, landscape architecture firm Context and a host of suppliers and community volunteers to make the project happen. See how together the team increased dwellers by more than 200%, and …