Smart Cities 2.0: Creating city DAO pilots for Melbourne

Smart Cities 2.0: Creating city DAO pilots for Melbourne

On 7 April 2022 the RMIT Digital CBD research team released a report proposing DAO pilots for Melbourne. In short, for ten years we have spoken about smart cities as public-private partnerships (PPP). Say between Cisco or IBM and the city of Melbourne. Today DAOs can offer non-hierarchical data governance models.

Background: the post COVID-19 digital environment

We put forward the context for why Melbourne is in the perfect and timely position to re-imagine itself through a Digital CBD. This report, number two, of this research series, proposes a strategic pilot for business adjustment to the post COVID-19 digital environment. We sought deep engagement from industry, government and the wider society to develop our public policy recommendations.

The goals of this report are tangible and focused. We have noted that alongside a decline in foot traffic in the CBD and an increase in remote work, there has been the challenge for small businesses in forecasting and planning. For example, if Deloitte’s audit team only works on a Thursday - how will the Bahn Mi sandwich shop in the bottom of their office building know how much stock to carry all week and specifically on Thursdays? How many extra rolls could be sold and or food waste minimised? These problems all have economic flow-on effects.

These economic shocks are all interrelated. So, alongside the problem of lowered CBD foot traffic came less customers, and then came the rent reductions. The broader economic shocks of landlord-tenant rent re-negotiations often lead to associated cash flow and working capital problems for both parties (due to reduced rents), and ultimately empty storefronts, empty buildings and a redistribution of capital. 

This report focuses on creating a Digital CBD with a bricks-and-mortar-focused reinvention as its mission. And that seeks to engender a new sense of ownership and shared community amongst residents, office workers and business owners in the CBD. 

The Melbourne Docklands at dusk

Image: Melbourne Docklands

The Solution: a Proposed Pilot.

A staged regenerative strategy is proposed targeting specific regions and precincts such as the Docklands or CBD North, as a pilot aimed at helping the businesses that need data to survive and thrive. This will encourage the office workers and floating CBD populations to once again return to the CBD. 

In Stage 1, this report proposed a pilot for CBD people flow and other data collections. The goal is to assist SMEs with their economic forecasting and inventory. This pilot will help forecast working capital for businesses, by observing changing labour markets. 

In addition, it is hoped that the proposals will help stakeholders to understand property rental and ownership dynamics. In turn, the proposed pilot seeks to assist in creating a rental market with clearer working capital predictive models for retail, commercial and office tenants and landlords.

With a return to hybrid models of work - which may result in large fluctuations in people flow, and as people return to new patterns of weekly work, this will help provide some predictability in forecasting for a designated pilot region. 

In Stage 2, that data will then be utilised by the Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO). Retail/residential/commercial tenants could then take responsibility for their local environment: by creating a pilot Management Commons DAO utilising crucial pooled data to optimise resource allocation, increase efficiency, and create opportunities for strategic placemaking. 

We proposed creating a DAO as a tool for:

1. Targeted economic stimulus 

2. Community governance

3. Community engagement 

The DAO is a non-hierarchical organisation designed to rejuvenate a pilot precinct for all stakeholders. It will be a DAO “data trust” designed to benefit all stakeholders. The DAO is thus the gatekeeper of all collected data that is to be used for the benefit of the DAO members and stakeholders. The concept of a DAO and the proposed operation of the pilot DAO is explained in depth in this forthcoming report. 

A DAO could also assist future Melbourne City Council and State Government Docklands Dollars or Melbourne Money stimulus initiatives. But in reality it is a step further than a stimulus package in that it is looking to forecast long-term economic progress. 

It is also proposed that there could be a “DAO digital currency” (easily convertible to Australian dollars). Corporate tenant partners (say for example resident developers or the state government), could support an airdrop of tokens to support the DAO’s membership intake and policies decisions.

DAO data trusts make Smart Cities 2.0 a viable policy option. 


The full report can be found here.

See this article also for more information.



Dr Max Parasol is a member of the Blockchain Innovation Hub and is a Fellow on the Digital CBD Project. 

04 May 2022


04 May 2022


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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.