City planning - by design – and for wellbeing - Combining city-wide connected technology and data to make Canberra more liveable, sustainable, vibrant and resilient. This allows us to model, monitor, plan and support our city in real time and into the future.

City planning - by design - and for wellbeing

Our desire for Canberra is for it to be liveable, sustainable, resilient and open to all.


Our desire for Canberra is for it to be liveable, sustainable, resilient and open to all. This means that it is easy to get around and easy to access work, education, services, leisure and activities. Canberra is a knowledge city that can attract and retain talent and investment, can develop the education and training jobs of the future, allows business to diversify, grow and partner. Most importantly, it means Canberra supports diversity, equality and accessibility.

The 2018 ACT Planning Strategy sets a vision ‘to be a sustainable, competitive and equitable city that respects Canberra as a city in the landscape and the National Capital, while being responsive to the future and resilient to change’.

Future cities use data and technology to achieve sustainability, efficiencies, economic growth and enhance wellbeing factors for the people who live, study and work there. These cities are easy to get around in and are places where it’s easy to access work, education, services and leisure. A future city uses seamless technology to enable connection and innovation. To be a future city, is to put the wellbeing of the community as the top priority, it’s digitally connected and inclusive.

Data is core infrastructure that enables everything else. It helps us understand how the city is working today, predict changes that need to be made to address hotspots, cater for emerging needs, provide better services and understand if changes have been effective.

The Canberra of the future will be co-designed. With the community, and teams within and beyond government accessing expertise across the range of amenity, from lived experience, engineering, parks and wildlife, utilities, traffic, water, sustainability, community services and technology. This is needed to ensure we plan and design our major initiatives to achieve all the things we want from a new or renewed development.

What we will do

Building community-centred design and co-design approaches to the way we plan for changes in urban and regional developments, and in service delivery will be how we ensure that the benefits can be achieved.

While we have many of the building blocks to develop a digital approach to whole of city planning and modelling, it will take time for the ACT Government to develop the data and the models, and for industry to provide information in an agreed digital standard and reusable format. We will also need to mature our approach to co-design of projects with the community and experts. This means that we:

  • will draw on the data, tools and expertise we already have to start the journey towards a complete digital model of our city's geography, environment, infrastructure and buildings - a digital twin of Canberra.
  • will develop the skills and tools to enable us to effectively work with the community and expert advisers to undertake co-design planning of key projects.
  • will work on making our geospatial information sharable and standards-based.
  • will work with industry and suppliers to provide information and plans in digital formats
  • will publish our place-based information to enable public, academic and industry participation.

Current initiatives

These are some of the initiatives that we are working on that illustrate how we are co-designing and planning for and with the community. More projects and greater details can be found in the Initiatives.

3D Canberra planning tool

The digital model allows for ‘on-the-fly’ 3D testing and visualisation of different planning and development scenarios.

Community hubs

Canberra has nine public libraries and the ACT Heritage Library across the city which offer much more than the opportunity to borrow books. They provide you with free access to the internet, WiFi and devices to connect with others and the rest of the world.

Place intelligence dashboard

The Place Intelligence Dashboard is a real-time place analytics and automated reporting platform aligned with 17 place-performance indicators within the City Renewal Precinct of Dickson, Northbourne Avenue, Haig Park, Civic and West Basin.

Unified geospatial ecosystem

ACT Government are building an enterprise-wide geospatial platform providing a single user interface and storage repository for all authoritative ACT Government location information.

YourSay community panel

The YourSay Community Panel has made it easy for you to have your say and help shape Canberra’s future. Joining this online panel gives you another way to share your views on a wide range of topics and informs our decision-making.

Looking ahead – possible future initiatives

A digital model of Canberra


In the future we want to bring together the information we have on our city – like land, building plans and materials, environmental flows and traffic - to create a model of Canberra; a ‘digital twin’ that reflects our city and how it works. Current examples include how parts of the built environment are represented in the 3D Canberra Planning Tool, and location and mapping information in the Geospatial Ecosystem.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, so does infrastructure design, construction and asset management processes. Digital Engineering and Building Information Modelling is transforming the infrastructure sector with innovation and increased efficiency in delivery. The complete model of Canberra includes key design and condition information for physical assets above and below ground as well as legal boundaries to better manage current and future developments.

A digital model of Canberra would be a strategic public asset. We could use it to forecast the impact of a development on the existing built and natural environment, as well as the impacts on aspects such as water usage, power consumption, noise levels and the impact of fire. Having a complete model of Canberra would benefit building developers who could use it to help design and refine their building development applications, armed with greater knowledge about the existing infrastructure. Local communities could see the development virtually in 3D before it is built, enabling real-time feedback to designers who can incorporate enhancements. A complete digital model of Canberra supports city planning by design. We envision our future city:

  • is designed with community and industry.
  • enables developers and community to see the impact of proposed changes.
  • is designed to be inclusive and accessible to all, including those without digital technology.
  • uses technology to model changes in the city to enable Canberra to be more liveable, sustainable, resilient and safe.
  • uses connected technology that can monitor and report on what is occurring within the city.
  • can use data to make services more efficient and make best use of the resources we have.
  • continues to test, and trial new and emerging technologies.
  • is seen as being a city of choice to support a diversity of new and growing industries.

Community and digital hubs


Public libraries are a great resource for connecting people in communities and providing access to technology. However, their locations may not be convenient for people who live in some parts of Canberra. Looking ahead we will work with community services organisations and libraries on options to expand community hubs to other locations, to improve access to technology and create a better sense of connectedness and belonging.

Finding and booking the use of public places


ACT Government manages the city’s public facilities and we want to provide easier ways to book and hire a range of public amenities for your community or other functions. These include parks and barbeque spots, sportsgrounds, community and school halls, campgrounds and cottages.