Report reimagines Melbourne through a Digital CBD

Friday, 03 December, 2021

Report reimagines Melbourne through a Digital CBD

A new report released by RMIT University has detailed how reimagining Melbourne as a ‘Digital CBD’ could reinvigorate the city and bring enormous benefits to the businesses, organisations, customers and citizens who engage with it. The report — ‘Building a Digital CBD: Melbourne and Beyond’ — by RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, the Centre for Cyber Security Research & Innovation and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, aims to provide a roadmap and strategic analysis of how Melbourne can be reimagined and reinvented as a digital economy and digital society, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first in a series of five reports, which will make up the Victorian Government-funded Digital Infrastructure and Digital CBD Project. The co-author of the report and Co-Director of the Blockchain Innovation Hub, Distinguished Professor Jason Potts, said the twin shocks of COVID-19 and rapidly accelerated technology adoption have impacted workplaces and work practices, supply chains and the wider economy, thereby changing our experiences of everyday life, including how we engage with our cities. Potts added that the report aims to respond to these shocks by outlining opportunities for a digital CBD as part of the development of a digital roadmap for Victoria, at a time when Australia is transitioning from an industrial economy to a digital one.

“These twin shocks will permanently restructure the economy. COVID-19 impacts have accelerated this transition, but the foundations of digitisation, globalisation and innovation have been accumulating and assembling for the last two decades,” he said.

One aspect of research from this report will look into the interaction of people in the city centre as they combine their social and cultural lifestyle with the layers of technology that are required to run a successful and liveable digital city. “Amidst the disruption and uncertainty is a great opportunity to accelerate into the future by building on new knowledge and capabilities,” Potts said.

While the first report outlines the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in relation to infrastructure demands, cybersecurity issues, supply chains and digital skills, it finds that Melbourne is in a perfect position to develop a Digital CBD to power a 21st century economy. In subsequent reports, the authors will seek to consider a range of scenarios for a ‘Digital CBD’, including: interconnected CBD precincts that diffuse into regions or sub-cities; a 15- or 20-minute CBD; repurposed real estate, public spaces or events; crypto economics such as tokenised incentives; and the reskilling of workers, including in cybersecurity capabilities, to transition from an industrial to a digital economy.

Professor Julie Cogin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of RMIT’s College of Business and Law, said RMIT is a microcosm of the Melbourne CBD and is well-placed to provide large-scale research into opportunity areas for a Digital CBD. “As a land owner and larger employer, RMIT has a shared interest in ensuring the city is successful. This project plays a key role in the reinvention of the city as a human-centred digital technology infrastructure,” she said.

The first report, commissioned by the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund, is now available for download. The following reports, also commissioned by VHESIF, will be published over the coming six months.

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