How accessibility makes for a more liveable city

“Cities without people are just massive and useless dead bodies made of steel and concrete. People ARE the city, its blood, brain and soul.”

Senior Professor Pascal Perez may be an engineer by training, and a world leader in the modelling of complex systems, but he’s clear that technology is a means, not an end.

“It’s all about the people. We need to use technological solutions to create liveable cities,” he said.

“That means places where people can move around easily, find accessible and productive work, raise a family, enjoy their weekends.

“Nowhere is the need more apparent, or more urgent, than for those who already face multiple obstacles in doing the things that the rest of us take for granted.

“Making our cities liveable for those with different abilities, ultimately is not simply about catering to the needs of a minority, but of changing the way all of us think about cities, liveability and disability.’

“That is the revolution in thinking that I believe we need to start with events such as this one.”

Senior Professor Perez will talk about his smart city ideas at Vivid Ideas later this month to be held as part of Vivid Sydney.

‘How accessibility makes for a more liveable city’ will bring together a panel of experts to discuss ways to open up our cities for people with disabilities, and why doing this benefits all of us.

The event is organised by Briometrix, an organisation that is already working to empower wheelchair users through technology and smart data.

Briometrix, a start-up based in Sydney, has worked with SMART as part of the Digital Living Lab.  The company has produced an app that uses a combination of mapping data and real time user generated content to help wheelchair users navigate cities and public places on their own terms. The aim is to remain injury-free and make informed decisions by using smart data.

The project has successfully mapped the University of Wollongong campus, and is looking to expand to include the city of Wollongong. Mapping the Wollongong area is made possible by the Digital Living Lab, a network of low-range radio receivers across the city that allow for the upload of small packets of data.

Natalie Verdon, business development manager at Briometrix, says she hopes the panel event at Vivid Ideas will inspire innovative ideas on how to create cities for all their inhabitants.

“By thinking about accessibility and disability within design, you cater to the some 30 per cent of Australians with disability,” she said.

“But you can also improve outcomes for the some 45 per cent of Australians that’ll face a mental health crisis in their lifetime.

“Wollongong is a great example of the possibilities opened up by making accessibility a focal point to future plans.  I am keen to seize this opportunity to demonstrate the benefits- and potentially use our work to inspire the same in Sydney.”

“One of the key components of liveability is diversity. That means diversity in voice, culture and experience.

“The creation of a sustainable, liveable and vibrant city must come from having many voices at the table.

“It’s about inclusion of people and ideas as much as it is creating opportunities with an array of stakeholders and vested interests. All of which require equal weighting.”

Also speaking at the event will be:

  • Eckhardt Kremmerer from Briometrix
  • Julia Suh, a leading voice in citizen-led urban development
  • Martin Heng, Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager
  • Nick Morris, former accessibility advisor for the International Paralympic Committee
  • Mark Tomkins, town planning expert specialising in access and inclusion.


The revolution in city accessibility is coming to the main stage. You can catch the panel, ‘How accessibility makes for a more liveable city’, on 28 May at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Vivid Ideas program for Vivid Sydney 2018.


About Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney is the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas and now the largest event in Australia. For 23 days – from 25 May to 16 June 2018 – the event places a spotlight on Sydney and reinforces its position as the home of light, creativity, cutting edge music, engaging conversations and the exchange of new ideas. The festival is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency. In 2017 Vivid Sydney attracted a record 2.33 million attendees and injected over $143 million into NSW’s visitor economy. For more information visit


About Vivid Ideas

 Vivid Ideas brings together the world’s greatest minds, innovators and creatives for a program of public talks, industry seminars, conferences, workshops and debates exploring creativity as a catalyst for change and celebrating Sydney as a creative industries hub of Asia Pacific. Vivid Ideas is presented as part of Vivid Sydney, which is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency and runs from 25 May to 16 June 2018.  For more information visit