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Smart Urbanism Lab

Investigating urban life in the digital age
This research lab examines urban life in a digital age, as described in the phrase ‘smart cities’.

The Smart Urbanism Lab takes a multidisciplinary approach to smart urbanism, bringing the perspectives of design thinking and urban and regional planning to the visions and practices of smart cities in Australia and worldwide. We have particular expertise in housing, transport, governance, and digital infrastructure and aim to:

  • Examine political economy and socio-spatial implications of smart city development
  • Foreground the interaction of citizens and smart cities
  • Foster critical evaluation of smart city policies
  • Design and demonstrate digital interventions to improve urban liveability
  • Facilitate multidisciplinary smart cities conversations that traverse university and urban policy settings

Our researchers

  • A/Prof. Tooran Alizadeh (Convenor)
  • Dr Sophia Maalsen (Convenor)
  • Prof. Donald McNeill
  • A/Prof. Dallas Rogers
  • Dr Joel Fredericks
  • Dr Justine Humphry
  • Dr Luke Hespanhol
  • A/Prof. Nancy Marshall
  • Rebecca Clements
  • Prof. Robyn Dowling
  • Prof. Simon Marvin
  • A/Prof. Somwrita Sarkar

Current Projects


Socio-Spatial Implications of Smart City Development in India FT210100422; T. Alizadeh. ARC Future Fellowship ($1,400,000)


Infrastructure Governance Incubator; T. Alizadeh, L. Kamruzzaman, G. Searle, C. Legacy. Henry Halloran Trust ($390,000)


Trust and Safety in Autonomous Mobility Systems: A Human-centred Approach, DP200102604, Martin Tomitsch, Luke Hespanhol, Stewart Worrall, Eduardo Nebot, Jennifer Kent, Alexander Wiethoff, Adrian Ellison. ARC Discovery ($440,000)


Public-led Smart City Infrastructure; T. Alizadeh, S. Marvin, D. McNeill, G. Searle, R. Clement. NSW Department of Planning Industry and Engagement and the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning ($47,000)


Hacking Housing: technologies, processes and practices of housing futures DE200100259, S. Maalsen, ARC ($417,000)


Innovating urban governance: practices for enhanced urban futures DP200100176, McGuirk, P., Dowling, R., Maalsen, S. and Baker, T. ARC ($394,000)


Digital technologies and the private rental sector in Australia LP190100619,

Rogers, D. and Maalsen, S. ARC Linkage Project ($230,703)


An investigation into smart engagement approaches for bridging the attitude-behaviour gap, J.Fredericks, C.Parker, ADP Design Lab (pilot project).


Smart Social Spaces: Smart Street Furniture Supporting Social Health, CIs: Dr Nancy Marshall and Dr Christian Tietz (lead CIs) (UNSW); Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, Smart Cities and Suburbs Program ($658,000)

PhD Projects

Unfolding Smart City Development in India: Multiscalar Governance, Fragmented Planning and Place-based Outcomes – Deepti Prasad

Housing experiments: evaluating the potential of new methods to generate housing system change – Laura Goh

The nexus of smart cities, informal urbanism and climate change in India – Lekhana Chidanandaswamy

Designing Autonomous City Infrastructure – Marius Hoggenmueller

Emerging Multi-Actor Urban Governance for Smart Cities – Sandy Burgoyne

The Impact of Smart Technologies on People-place Relationships and Loneliness in Urban Open Space: A Study of Young Adults – Vera Xia


  • Arup
  • City of Sydney
  • Grimshaw
  • Georges River Council
  • Henry Halloran Trust
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • NSW Department of Planning Industry and Engagement (DPIE)
  • Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) NSW
  • Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) VIC
  • Shelter NSW
  • Tenants QLD
  • Tenants' Union of NSW (TUNSW)
  • Tenants Victoria
  • Transport for NSW (TfNSW)