iHUB is a readily scalable, state-of-the-art, multi-layered networked facility that helps participants make smarter decisions in urban policy-making, plan-making and place-making.
The iHUB National Urban Research Platform resulted from a successful $1.8 million LIEF grant awarded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Swinburne is the lead institution in a consortium of universities that includes the University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, Monash University and Curtin University.
Our operational layers
Each iHUB facility in the initial 5-node network has four integrated operational layers that deliver its full functionality.
An iHUB facility provides a highly adaptable space where visual-analytic material from many sources can be used to cover a landscape of disciplines with vastly different modus operandi but where the visual representation of ideas, theories, facts, postulations, models and scenarios is the most appropriate common ground upon which to be informed, to negotiate, to advocate, and to instruct.
These features include:
a reconfigurable meeting space to support different modes of collaboration including lecture mode for presentations and guided discussions, breakout mode for focus groups and small sub teams, and boardroom mode for roundtable discussion.
a set of four ‘Pods’ (a ‘canvas’, ‘wall’ or ‘pin-up-board’) each comprising of eight 4K monitors that can host exhibitions drawn from various sources.
high-speed connectivity and computer processing with advanced graphics capability and the power to crunch large urban data sets, producing spatial visualisation in real-time while making use of all combinations of screens.
capability for visualisation of multiple media presentations from multiple devices, viewed simultaneously.
a ‘digital workbench’ for many powerful digital urban analytical tools that, to date, have not been able to interoperate. The digital workbench enables design decision-makers to consider fresh data-driven scenarios together with future planning scenarios in real-time.
Through sophisticated data capture, transmission and advanced analytics, and advanced visualisation, experts and end-users can interact with both the data and each other in real-time.
The data layer will operate as a distributed data system that draws on proprietary databases developed and managed within partner organisations and their affiliated networks, as well as those with open access managed by governments and agencies, such as AURIN.
The software layer represents a significant repository of computer-based tools developed by the iHUB university partners who have all been involved in one or more of the four urban Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs) — Construction Innovation, Spatial Information, Low Carbon Living and Water Sensitive Cities, as well as those available as open-source.
Computer modelling of built environment performance (at building, precinct and city scale) is extensive but currently exist as separate tools. iHUB presents an opportunity for creating capacity for integrated urban systems analysis and modelling.
The engagement layer is where the principal benefits of the iHUB network are delivered. Imagine politicians, planners, developers, architects, engineers, social scientists, and citizens being able to gather in a room to make collective decisions based on real-time data analytics. In such a facility, key stakeholders, experts and end-users could probe ‘what if?’ scenarios using 3D simulation to demonstrate the effects of competing urban development possibilities. The collected diverse disciplinary expertise and interests could debate alternative speculations around future cities together and consensually decide appropriate courses of action. There has been no such facility in Australia to date.
iHUB will enable ‘city as laboratory’ to be realised on a national scale, linking individual university labs as a single collaborative research space (including Swinburne’s Smart Cities Research Institute and Centre for Urban Transitions; UNSW’s City Analytics Lab and Urban Pinboard; Monash University’s Urban Lab; Curtin’s Circular Economy Living Lab; and University of Queensland’s individual research centres in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and IT).
This represents a future urban governance decision-making platform for local as well as metropolitan development policy-making, plan-making and place-making that could be transformative. For the first time, key decisions can be tested for likely consequences in real-time. This enables all stakeholders to be present, sharing information and a wide assortment of insights with a fluency and timeliness only made possible by the confluence of rapidly improving computing technology and processes, and combining these with distributed urban analytics and design software.