5 July 2023

Flying cars and smart cities: forum to look at Wagga's future beyond 2050

| Chris Roe
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An illustration of Wagga in the future

Committee 4 Wagga’s Scott Sanbrook, Adam Drummond and Michelle Ford look towards Wagga’s future. Image: Chris Roe.

According to Committee 4 Wagga (C4W) Chair Adam Drummond, flying cars, automated farming and interactive digital mapping are all on the way as the city heads towards a bright future.

C4W is hosting the Telstra Wagga Wagga: Beyond 2050 event in August, looking at innovation and technological advances that will shape the way we live in the coming decades.

“From a transportation perspective, there are the first ever flying cars, which, beyond 2050, you’ll see taking off from shopping malls and council chambers,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “We might not even need a Gobba bridge when that comes!”

“We’re excited about what the future holds leading up to 2050 and then beyond.”

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Mr Drummond said that a lineup of industry-leading guest speakers will drive the conversations around automation and robotics in farming, virtual reality training, transport, and advances in ‘digital twinning’ – collecting schematics, photos and environmental information about a place to create a virtual copy.

“Mark Grentell, who’s well known for the feature films he’s done here in Wagga, he’s got a company at Fox Studios that actually does the digital twinning of cities,” Mr Drummond said.

“You end up with a 3D digital map of the city, which is going to be really important for developments, infrastructure projects, greenfield sites and things like that.”

With a number of state government infrastructure projects currently on the back burner, Mr Drummond said the emerging technology will be a valuable tool for regional communities advocating for change.

“Digital twinning will enable developers and engineers to actually see what something like the Gobba bridge will look like without having to build it,” he said.

“As the population increases, they’ll be able to look at exactly what it would look like, without having any plans on the table whatsoever.

“We think that this will actually enhance and enable a lot of those development and infrastructure projects that we’re trying to articulate to the different levels of government.”

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Guest speaker Mick Byrne also grew up in Wagga and now heads up development at EmergiSim, providing training to defence and first responders in a virtual reality environment.

“Wagga Wagga has always been an intriguing hub for innovation, spanning across sports, agriculture, technology and more,” he said.

“I am thrilled to witness the remarkable advancements that have emerged from this city and to showcase our groundbreaking work in virtual reality training within the first responder sector.”

image of first responders in future using VR technology

EmergiSim uses VR technology to train first responders. Image: Supplied.

Mr Drummond said that the interactive format of the event, hosted by Region’s Genevieve Jacobs, would facilitate discussion and make room for audience questions.

“It’s really exciting. It covers a broad range of topics, but it really does interest people off the street… who want to know how Wagga is going to be shaped into the future,” he said, speculating that Wagga will grow into a ‘smart city’.

“It looks like we will be embracing technology to ensure that we can develop the city in a sustainable and in a smart way that is not just for the generation that’s working now, but future generations as well.”

C4W is hoping to attract other local councils across the region to the event to take a look at the tools that they might be able to use to develop their communities.

Telstra Wagga Wagga: Beyond 2050 will be held at CSU Riverina Playhouse on 3 August from 11 am to 3:30 pm, and you can get more information or book your ticket here.

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