One of the key issues facing town planners, councils and developers is how to make cities smart and flexible in the new-age of work and life balance.
There are many new designs to make capital cities "smart" from public transport to general amenities.
According to Knight Frank's Global Cities 2017 report, fast-growing cities are centre stage in the digital and creative revolutions, and in most of the global cities supply is not keeping pace with demand for both commercial and residential real estate.
The report says that, with the increased flow of tech and innovative businesses into the city, demand is rising for equally smart and innovative services.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore has said she wants Sydney to embrace technology, not just as tenants, but in buildings and facilities used by the general public.
One of the latest priorities is street furniture, from park seating and community offerings to billboards and signage.
The group behind the many advertising signs, JCDecaux, is increasing its presence in "intelligent street furniture".
JCDecaux has the City of Sydney contract (among others) for street furniture that includes signs, bus shelters, bins, seats, kiosks and the like. It pioneered the concept of street furniture in Paris and the furniture here was designed by Australian architect Philip Cox.
The company has just begun the rollout of Sydney's first digital, interactive signs as part of its commitment to help build "smart cities" around the world.
The chief executive of JCDecaux, Steve O'Connor, said the first those is Live Touch, which is Australia's first out-of-home information and content touchscreen platform.
Mr O'Connor said Live Touch features four key apps: photo, with images and information for main Sydney attractions; weather and forecasts; maps with points of interest, retail directions and transport links as well as a QR code so consumers can save transport routes to their smartphones; and arrows at the bottom of the screen to reorder apps to enable easy access for those who may be in a wheelchair.
"In just three months Sydneysiders and local and international visitors have recorded more than 1000 hours of usage of Live Touch, more than 34,000 app starts and a 1:44 minutes average time on an application." Mr O'Connor said.
"This is just the start of a digital rollout and 'intelligent street furniture' throughout Sydney.
Mr O'Connor said the City of Sydney was focussed on making the city smart by increasing connectivity between retailers, workers, residents and tourists through a range of services.
"We see our business as expanding to help make the city smarter by having active screens where people can check transport timetables, tourist information and eventually work with retailers to possibly sell items through a range of technology," he said.
Mr O'Connor said Live Touch is the first Australian example of that but JCDecaux has tested concepts in other markets. In Paris a new-concept bus shelter includes an AFP news feed, defibrillators, 72-inch screens for advertising and public information (such as a jobs board) and USB sockets to charge phones. Another structure has a self-maintaining garden on its roof. There are many possibilities.
Live Touch's capability could be expanded in Australia for services such as real time-transport and safety information, transport timetables, cultural events and live content screening.
"This article was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 4 November 2016 and written by Carolyn Cummins".