Data is the glue for a future Sydney

Data is the glue for a future Sydney

One of America’s most influential architects will share his insights on using data to drive the design of cities at a City of Sydney event this month.

Sydneysiders are invited to hear from Carlo Ratti, Director of SENSEable City Lab at MIT, at a free CityTalks Design on ‘Data Driven Design’ on 21 March at Lower Town Hall.

Carlo will be joined by Hila Oren, CEO of the Tel Aviv Foundation and Founder of Tel Aviv Global, who has been credited with turning the Israeli city into the number one startup capital outside of the United States.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said increasing access to data was fast changing the way cities are understood, designed and experienced.

“There’s so much potential for making our cities work better for the people who live in them by taking a data driven approach to designing urban areas and services,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Carlo Ratti is one of the preeminent thinkers on cities and Hila Oren brings tremendous experience fostering an environment that supports startups and tech innovation. I’m really looking forward to learning from their experience and insights.”

Carlo Ratti will explore how data can be used to solve problems in urban planning and enhance the experiences of people interacting with the city.

“Data is the glue of smart cities – it helps us to know the space we live in, and enhances our ability to respond to it,” Mr Ratti said.

“The applications of data driven design are manifold – from energy to waste management, from mobility to water distribution, from city planning to citizen engagement.

“Our work, both at MIT SENSEable City Lab and at Carlo Ratti Associati design and innovation office, is to investigate the interface between people, technologies and the city, to develop research and applications that empower citizens to make choices that result of a more liveable urban condition for all.”

Hila Oren will share Tel Aviv’s experience of using open data systems to create a strong startup environment and drive innovative solutions to local challenges.

“Data is the lifeblood of so many new startups. Municipalities accrue a huge amount of data, to the point that we often aren’t able to process it, but we should still collect it,” Ms Oren said.

“The cost of sharing this data to programmers and local entrepreneurs is so small but can lead to impressive startups being created.”

Ms Oren said collaboration was also key to cementing Tel Aviv’s place as the number one startup ecosystem in Europe.

“We’ve tried to enable a city-wide atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation by building five city-funded co-working spaces that provide office space at a symbolic subsidised fee, where entrepreneurs can feed off each other’s energy and ideas.” Ms Oren said.

“We’ve seen the ecosystem respond – with a 138 percent growth in accelerators, co-working spaces, and innovative centres over the last three years.

“Ultimately, our greatest success in Tel Aviv has come from our commitment to listening to our residents and community of entrepreneurs to leverage their insight, skill and innovative ideas to help us improve urban life on every level.”

The CityTalks Design event will include a panel discussion moderated by broadcaster and author Adam Spencer.

Speakers include:

  • Clover Moore – Lord Mayor of Sydney
  • Carlo Ratti – Director, SENSEable City Lab, MIT
  • Hila Oren – CEO, Tel Aviv Foundation and Founder, Tel Aviv Global
  • Professor Stuart White – Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS
  • Colin Griffith – Digital Strategy & Projects, Data61 CSIRO
  • Nicola Walt – Senior Consultant Smart Cities, Arup
  • Peter Tullin – Co-founder, and Remix Summits

CityTalks Design: Data Driven Design

When: 6pm–8pm, Tuesday 21 March 2017
Where: Lower Town Hall (entrance via Druitt Street)
Cost: Free; tickets have already booked out for this popular talk, but the City encourages people to join a waiting list on the night from 5.30pm where a limited number of tickets will be released.

Join the conversation #SydCityTalks @cityofsydney

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Advisor Angela Salt.
Phone 0455 958 503 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Matt Levinson.
Phone 0499 319 385 or email