SmartNSW Masterclass: The Power of Smart Public Spaces

Event details

Date: Thursday, 16 November, 9.30–11.45am | FREE
Location: Re-watch online.

Public spaces are the foundation for public life and the heart of great places. They create connections between our homes and high streets, transport hubs and places of work and study.

Great public spaces encourage us to stay, connect, play and participate – generating vibrant, inclusive communities where people can get outside and get active. 

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the strength of public space in connecting people, Country and community; and in caring for our health and well-being. These public spaces, as small as our laneways, or as large as our green open spaces, libraries and cultural spaces, need to be places with meaning for our communities. 

This SmartNSW Masterclass will demonstrate the role of technology and data in: 

  • creating great public spaces that connect, engage, excite and include the community.
  • measuring place outcomes, to demonstrate the value of place activation and support decision making and investment. 

Browse the masterclass agenda below, and access session videos, additional resources, and presenter slides. 

A summary of the masterclass is also available (PDF, 1.62 MB).

Re-watch the sessions via our YouTube Playlist

This is a special masterclass delivered as part of the Power of Public Spaces Program, a collaboration between the NSW Government and Macquarie University. Together we are uniting leading thinkers and practitioners to explore possibilities and solutions for our shared public spaces. 

‘The Power of Public Spaces to Connect Communities and Places’ project is funded through an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant (LP210200796) between researchers at Macquarie University and partners in Transport for NSW, Department of Planning and Environment and the NSW Government Architect. Find out more about the project at the Macquarie University project page.


9.30am Welcome & Keynote

Rory Brown, Executive Director, Smart Places, Cities and Active Transport, Transport for NSW

9.45am Panel discussion: Creating smart public spaces: the imperative for change

This panel will introduce the changing trends of how our public spaces are being used by communities post pandemic – and how our understanding is shaped by available (or unavailable) data.  
Facilitator: Drew Pinazza, Director, Streets and Centres, Cities and Active Transport, Transport for NSW   


  • Adam Beck, Co-Chair, Smart Places and Infrastructure Workstream, Internet of Things Alliance Australia
  • Kylie Legge, Founding Director of Place Partners and Place Score
  • Chris Pettit, Professor of Urban Science, Director - City Futures Research Centre, University of NSW

Additional resources

  • The Smart Public Spaces Charter includes six principles to give customers a voice and provide for the protection of data, transparency, accessibility and equity in smart places. Sign up to the Charter to demonstrate your commitment to putting people, Country, sustainability and resilience at the centre of smart places.  
  • Smart Public Spaces Guide introduces the role of technology in delivering better public space outcomes for communities. Download the Smart Public Spaces Guide (PDF, 4.27 MB)  
  • NSW Public Spaces Charter has been developed to support the planning, design, management and activation of public spaces in NSW. It identifies three core values and 10 principles for quality public space. Find out more about the Charter and how to become a signatory. 
  • The Great Places Toolkit helps bring the principles of the NSW Public Spaces Charter to life through a collection of free resources to support local government, state agencies, industry and the community. Browse the toolkit online to support planning, managing and creating better and more vibrant cities, towns and neighbourhoods.
  • Place Score’s 2023 Australian Liveability Census: is the country’s largest social research project. The Liveability Census reveals what is really important to our communities and local neighbourhoods.  
  • The Planning Institute of Australia’s PlanTech Strategy includes a wealth of information, resources and working groups to support the profession in navigating digital transformation. 
  • Access Aequitas: an open-source bias audit toolkit. Developed by the US Center for Data Science and Public Policy at University of Chicago, this tool can be used to make informed decisions about developing and deploying data-based systems.

10.45am Smart speed session: Putting it all into action

Speakers in this session will have 5 minutes and 5 slides each to introduce their experiences in delivering smart public spaces. 

Speed Session speakers 

Additional resources

11.10am Panel: Putting it all into action

Facilitator: Emily Rucker Director Policy & Engagement, Smart Places, Cities and Active Transport, Transport for NSW 

Speed Session speakers: 

  • Gemma Baxter, Pilot and Trial Lead, Smart City Incubator City of Melbourne
  • Giles Pickard, Principal Landscape Architect, City of Canning WA 
  • Beth Andean, A/Group Manager, Place Services, City of Parramatta​​​​​

11.40am Wrap up & Close

Rory Brown, Executive Director, Smart Places, Cities and Active Transport, Transport for NSW