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Brisbane may be the "smartest" city in Queensland but it has fallen below dozens of other Australian local government areas, according to a report investigating the label.
The study, published by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology's urban studies lab this week, attempted to lay out what the term meant in practice and address the "major limitation" of existing ways to measure it.
The federal government introduced a Smart Cities Plan in 2016, which operated largely as a blueprint for addressing urban sustainability and liveability issues through technology.
Brisbane was the first city in Australia to brand itself a "smart city" in the mid-2000s.
The city scored 32nd out of 60 "leading" local government areas under the index developed and used by the researchers. That's below council areas across the greater capital city regions of every state except Tasmania.
The 180 largest of Australia's 563 local government areas - containing 85 per cent of the population - were assessed and given a score and corresponding classification as either leading, following or developing their smart city status.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Tan Yigitcanlar said though Queensland contained fewer higher-ranking councils than most other states, when weighted for population it came third behind NSW and Victoria for the number of people living within leading local government areas.
"NSW and Victoria generally have smaller, more fragmented metropolitan local government areas," he said.
"Whereas Queensland is more amalgamated, larger local government areas."
In some ways, that provided "opportunities", he said, pointing to Brisbane City Council's budget of more than $3 billion.
But this depended on location as distance from others local government areas with shared utilities and infrastructure did not "work in favour" of smart cities.
Brisbane's immediate neighbours, the Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Redland council areas, were classified as "following" under the study, meaning they had some achievements and potential. Logan and the Scenic Rim managed only a "developing" label.
Using 2016 census data, the study measured economic, societal, environmental and governance markers for each city across indicators ranging from median income, workforce participation figures and crime data through to sustainable building ratings and the size of public Wi-Fi networks.
Associate Professor Yigitcanlar said there were positive signs for the south-east, pointing to the 2032 Olympic bid, which would likely deliver further infrastructure, and the level of regional co-operation through the Council of Mayors SEQ.
"Despite political and policy differences, bringing a number of mayors and their teams to the table to decide on the future of the region ... is a big achievement and best practice for Australian regional governance," he said.
The group is planning to repeat the study again in the coming years with updated data from the 2021 census.