Brisbane will not attract the same scale of investment that Sydney and Melbourne enjoy if it fails to improve its resilience – both physical and economic, according to a new report from design and consultancy firm Arcadis.
One of the major recommendations in the report, City Resiliency: More than just a disaster, is for the city to consider building a levee system to protect its financial and businesses districts from flooding.
“One of the biggest international spotlights Brisbane had recently was when its CBD flooded,” Arcadis city executive South East Queensland Dr Louisa Carter said.
“This just can’t continue if we want to become a New World City. We will never attract the scale of investment that Sydney and Melbourne enjoy until businesses can be confident that the city is resilient.”
The report suggests a levee from Eagle Street to Boundary Street in the CBD to provide businesses with economic certainty.
“The key advantages of a levee are not only to protect the economic infrastructure in Brisbane’s legal and financial centre at Eagle Street, but also to facilitate protection for the wider precinct,” it says.
The next area the report suggests as a priority is “urban energy”, with the growth of embedded networks in new inner urban developments representing a potential “consumer trap”.
“[Embedded networks] introduce a third party control in our otherwise deregulated supply market, introducing consumer risks in pricing and service,” Dr Carter said.
The report says embedded networks add risks of doubling on payments for the network connection, consumption monitoring and scheduling, or alternate price setting.
“For example, large energy users within a development – such as a hotel in a mixed-use apartment building – may pay lower rates as the larger purchaser than individual residential consumers.”
Urban regeneration and embedded networks are working at “cross-purposes” when developments become operational, the report suggests.
“Consumers who have embraced urban living end up having less choice when it comes to utility providers because of the very constraints of the urban environment in which they sought to reside.
“Urban planners and city infrastructure providers need to consider the consumer’s position for future developments to ensure not only fair but affordable access to utility networks, to provide a resilient future for Brisbane and its inhabitants.”
The final area the report tackles is automation.
“In addition to the energy and data challenges of our cities, we are also at risk of falling behind comparable global cities if we don’t fully capture the opportunities provided by the increasing automation of our cities,” Dr Carter said.
The report says there’s limited understanding around guidance, governance and ethics of automation, with existing legislation concerned with “human and consumer protection at the most basic level”.
“An evolutionary symbiosis is becoming apparent in the planning, design and management of the machining of cities. If it is to be an evolutionary plus, the immediate opportunity from urban automation needs to be harnessed to understand cities better, to utilise real time and monitored inputs more effectively, and use improved analytics to plan and manage cities as economic and environmental bridges to the future.”
Dr Carter said resilience went beyond preparing for natural disasters.
“It’s about identifying risks, developing mitigation strategies and ensuring a city can weather storms, both physical and economic,” she said.