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Smart Cities: Social Change Through Technology

Learn from New Zealand’s inspirational smart city projects, and see how you can apply these principles to your own context.

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Gain insights into smart cities from the experts at the University of Canterbury

Smart cities harness the power of digital technology. Through innovative data collection, cities can use these insights to manage resources and operations more efficiently, and promote sustainable development.

New Zealand is one of the world’s leading nations when it comes to implementing smart city design principles. This six-week course, presented by the University of Canterbury, gives you a detailed look at how this has been achieved, and how your city can do the same.

Explore the infrastructure of New Zealand’s smart cities

The course will take you on a journey across New Zealand, exploring smart city development in Christchurch in the south, the capital city of Wellington, and all the way up to Hamilton in the north.

You’ll also see how smart life has the ability to drive social change as you explore real-life smart city projects such as solar-powered waste management and LED lighting.

Understand how smart cities can address challenges

You’ll examine how smart city infrastructure can be used to overcome wicked problems

With this understanding, and as you learn about the role of stakeholders and government in smart urban development, you’ll learn how you can apply smart life principles to your own city context.

Explore the importance of citizens and communities to successful smart life

You’ll go beyond smart city principles to understand the value of the citizen in this infrastructure. This knowledge will help you explore how smart cities can tackle community challenges and improve the quality of life in these cities.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the knowledge of smart city practices in New Zealand to understand how you can apply them closer to home.

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  • Week 1

    New Zealand and Smart Cities

    • Welcome to the Course

      You will be introduced to your course, your course educators and your fellow learners.

    • Course Information

      You will learn about the big question, the week-by-week structure and the assessment in your Smart City course.

    • Introduction to Smart Cities

      In this activity you will learn about smart cities, how they have evolved and how smart cities are shaping up across New Zealand.

    • Smart Hamilton

      In this activity, we introduce Hamilton city located on the North Island in New Zealand and their community-centred approach to building a smart city.

    • Smart Christchurch

      In this activity, we introduce Christchurch city located in the South Island in New Zealand and their smart city program focused on solutions underpinned by technological advancements.

    • Smart Wellington

      In this activity, we introduce Wellington, the capital of New Zealand located on the North Island and their smart city program focused on delivering solutions to community challenges.

    • Week 1 Wrap-up

      In week 1 we have heard from the leaders of the smart city programs in New Zealand and their delivery of innovative community services. You will now have an opportunity to reflect on what you've learned.

  • Week 2

    Smart Cities and Community

    • Overview of Week 2

      This week, we focus on some of the challenges in the community and how the smart city programs are tackling these challenges.

    • Smart Communities

      In this activity, you will hear discussion with Associate Professor Malcolm Campbell on the economic and social problems, as well as opportunities that can be found in a smart region.

    • Smart Communities in Wellington

      In this activity, you will hear Sean Audain from the Wellington city council discuss how they use technology, data and digital reporting to solve socials issues within the community.

    • Smart Communities in Christchurch

      In this activity, you will hear from Grace de Leon and Michael Healy on how the smart Christchurch program put in trails and using communication channels within the community.

    • Smart Communities in Hamilton

      In this activity, John Kinghorn from the smart Hamilton program discusses energy efficiency as a key objective to building a smart city.

    • Week 2 Wrap-up

      Week 2 showcased some of the smart city initiatives underway across New Zealand to tackle community challenges. You will now have an opportunity to reflect on what you've learned.

  • Week 3

    Smart Cities and Wicked Problems

    • Overview of Week 3

      This week, we will look at tackling larger ‘wicked’ problems using smart city initiatives.

    • Resilient, Open and Responsive Cities

      In this activity, Dr Lukas Marek talks about a world first ‘Sensing Cities’ project that was carried out in New Zealand.

    • Wellington: The Responsive City

      In this activity, Sean Audain discusses how Wellington city council worked with key stakeholders to develop a resilience and a data governance strategy.

    • Christchurch: The Resilient City

      In this activity, you will hear from Michael Healy and Grace de Leon, from the smart Christchurch program and their "seismic resilience as a service". You will also complete a knowledge check on what you've learned so far.

    • Hamilton: The Open City

      In this activity, Chris Mardon, the Chief Data Officer of the smart Hamilton program will discuss the open data initiative. You will also complete a knowledge check on what you've learned so far.

    • Week 3 Wrap-up

      In this activity, you will find a summary of what you've learned in week 3 and a chance to participate in a self-reflection activity.

  • Week 4

    Governing Smart Societies

    • Overview of Week 4

      This week, we start to focus our attention on stakeholders, governance and communities.

    • Technology in Smart Cities

      In this activity, Associate Professor Chris Vas states the importance of paying attention to the critics of smart cities to better inform our objective thinking.

    • Shaping a Smart Hamilton

      In this activity, Chelsey Stewart from the smart Hamilton project and Jannat Maqbool Director for SCCANZ discuss smart city practices in Hamilton, New Zealand.

    • Smart Communities and Businesses

      In this activity, Adam Beck discusses the scaling up of smart city initiatives, pilot projects and proof-of-concept cases.

    • Smart Societies

      In this activity, Elle Archer discusses the role of technology in smart cities.

    • The Role of Technology in Smart Decision-Making

      In this activity, Associate Professor Chris Vas discusses how local councils drive innovation.

    • Week 4 Wrap-up

      In week 4 you heard discussions about the role of communities, the formation of smart societies and finally combining these aspects through smart governance approaches.

  • Week 5

    NZ Smart Cities and the World

    • Overview of Week 5

      This week, we will start to explore some of the global practices around smart cities.

    • Smart Cities Around the World

      In this activity, you will hear discussions around the current state of smart cities within the international context.

    • The Future of Smart Cities

      In this activity, you will hear discussions around smart cities in academic literature, community inclusion and the restructuring of foundations to ensure smart city initiatives are successful.

    • New Zealand in Comparison

      In this activity, you will hear discussions around societal wellbeing through smart city initiatives. You will also complete a knowledge check on what you've learned so far.

    • Week 5 Wrap-up

      Week 5 has showcased a wide array of smart city practices that have shaped up across the globe. You will now have an opportunity to reflect on what you've learned.

  • Week 6

    My City, My Role

    • Overview of Week 6

      This week, you have to reflect and respond to the challenges of your local city context.

    • Final Assessment

      In this activity, you reflect and respond to the challenges of your local city context.

    • Course Wrap-up

      This activity gives you the opportunity to reflect on what you have learnt in this course and tells you about some courses that you can take to continue your learning journey.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify how local City Councils in New Zealand are organising around the concept of ‘smart’ cities.
  • Assess the role of stakeholders in the development of smart cities.
  • Evaluate governance challenges in smart cities.
  • Critique the evolution of smart societies.
  • Compare how Cities are tackling community challenges in smart cities.
  • Assess the relevance of global smart city practices to the local contexts.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about smart cities, how they harness technology for social change, and the responsibility of citizens and governments in creating and maintaining them.

Who developed the course?

University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury strives to deliver excellent, research-informed education, and creative and innovative research. UC prepares its graduates to care, think and be future ready.

  • Established

  • Location

    Christchurch, New Zealand
  • World ranking

    Top 270Source: QS World University Rankings 2021

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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