With Australia’s population set to hit 40 million by 2060, Griffith University cities experts say it is time to get serious about long term planning.

Dr Tony Matthews.

Cities Research Institute Director Professor Paul Burton and senior lecturer Dr Tony Matthews will join other specialists in built environment, urban design, architecture and tech to imagine the cities of our future in the Cities 2060 panel at World Science Festival Brisbane on March 25.

Dr Matthews expects that in the cities of 2060, technology innovation will give residents access to greater levels of information.

“It will be very sophisticated and nuanced,” Dr Matthews said.

“People will be able to easily access fine grain local data like air quality readings, micro-scale weather reports, extensive real-time transit data and so on.”

Surveillance will be even more commonplace.

He also said big brother-style tech will become even more prevalent than it is now.

“There will be a lot more surveillance technology in the cities of the future — recording people, movement and transactions.”

As an urban and environmental planner, Dr Matthews said looking decades into the future wasn’t just smart, but fairly commonplace.

“Anticipating and planning for cities 40 years into the future is strategic because the foundations for good outcomes need be put in place nice and early,” Dr Matthews said.

“If you want to know the future, you need to plan it.”

He said the Sunshine State had taken planning a step further with the Southeast Queensland (SEQ) Plan, setting out a 50-year vision for the region that is reviewed and updated every few years.

Brisbane is at the centre of the SEQ metro-region, which stretches from Noosa to the NSW border and inland to Toowoomba, according to Dr Matthews.

Professor Paul Burton.

Approximately 75,000 new residents are expected to move to the region each year, with projections indicating 30,000 new dwellings a year and the creation of about 1 million new jobs by 2045.

However, Professor Burton said thinking seriously about our long-term urban future did not just mean making detailed plans for cities in 2060 and sticking with them at all costs.

“It’s more about being adaptive in the face of changes we can’t anticipate and involving more people in these conversations about the futures we want,” he said.

“We also need to remember that SEQ is increasingly connected with the rest of the world and improving these connections and relations with other places will only become more important in shaping our future.”

When it comes to controlling the spread of the growth, Dr Matthews admitted finding a balance to combat urban sprawl without compromising greenspace was tricky, but not impossible.

“The first thing to do is try to protect the greenspace we have left and not sacrifice it easily for other uses, as that way, we don’t have to try to recover that greenspace in the future” Dr Matthews said.

He added green areas on top of buildings, frequently seen in places like Hong Kong, were becoming increasingly common but they should not be relied on as the sole provider of greenery.

Singapore is an excellent example of well planned green spaces.

“While this approach has its benefits, it’s not a like for like replacement of natural space,” he said.

Dr Matthews said developments such as subdivisions and terraced housing could be used in conjunction with high rises to help prevent urban sprawl while creating a “nice blend of scale and experience.”

He said there were many global examples in terms of urban planning, but it depended what aspects one wanted to focus on.

“Singapore is a world leader in utilising urban greenery, Amsterdam for integrated cycling, Rome for heritage conservation,” he said.

“Lots of cities are doing really well in some aspects of forward planning — but none are getting it all right.

“Who we look to should depend on what aspect of forward planning you’re interested in.”

In another session at World Science Festival Brisbane, Griffith Review quarterly literary publication editor Ashley Hay and Professor Emeritus Ian Lowe will explore the ways in which our relationships with resources are changing what we do with all that’s animal, vegetable and mineral — as well as with less tangible commodities such as memory, stories and hope.

Pro Vice Chancellor (Sciences) Professor Andrew Smith will also join Associate Professor Julien Louys and Dr Sally Wasef to host an education program on the Circle of Life, while Carrie McCarthy and Dr Tanja Beer discuss sustainability in art and design.

9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
UN Sustainable Development Goals 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure