Parramatta, a city in the Australian state of New South Wales, is on the way to becoming a showcase city for the integration of digital services into community life in that country.
The project, Parra Connect, focuses on a suburban community about 14 miles away from Sydney. It will cover about 50,000 households. It is the first such digital city in the country and one of the first in the world, though it is part of an increasing trend.
EnergyAustralia is putting in a $100 million smart grid to handle the electricity. Other elements of the plan include free WiFi over the bulk of the city; apps to provide information on parking availability, an SMS service that connects to the Parramatta city council, online health care options and online streaming security cams.
Local community leaders and politicians, business people and universities are working with international companies such as Google and Microsoft to pull the project off. It is hoped that this project will set a precedent for a string of future Australian digital cities.
Given how consistently Australian government and law enforcement officials have forced Australian citizens and businesses into desired behaviors online, you might be forgiven for wondering if it is such a good thing for the country to do.
In the last year, the government has moved toward forcing the use of anti-virus programs, forcing ISPs to store traffic information and forcing social networks to become adjunct law enforcement agencies and more.
Of course, the administrators of the project are not promising personal liberty, they're promising to "boost city revenues, with a return on investment." Still, the lack of the former has often impinged on the latter.