Christchurch Sensing City, New Zealand

  • Sensing city is a world-first project
  • Christchurch will be a living laboratory for the twenty first century city
  • The real-time data collected will give information about how a city actually works

Around the world, cities are moving beyond the physical, looking to develop a new context for urban living, by putting in place an appropriate digital built environment in which new information products and services can be conceived and developed.

Sensing City is a world-first project which will see sensors installed in Christchurch to collect real-time information on a range of variables including pedestrian and vehicle traffic flow, water and air pollution to improve how the city functions. 

The Sensing City initiative seeks to be a catalyst to creating a step change in the New Zealand economy. It also aims to help realise Christchurch’s vision of becoming a world class exporter based information economy. This is premised on open access to city-wide data, development of a service platform, and the fostering of local analytics & development capabilities. This in turn will lead to the creation of valuable information products and services which benefit the citizens of Christchurch, create export opportunities and attract inward investment.

By integrating and making the data from a variety of sources openly available, Sensing City will encourage the development of information-based solutions by the city and its constituents. As a result the quality of life in Christchurch will improve and create a globally unique data focussed export capability, positioning Christchurch at the forefront of medium sized future cities.


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  • Several school children and a teacher standing on a bridge testing the water quality of the Heathcote river in Christchurch by dangling a water sensor into it. © Ronli Greyling. Open gallery

    Pupils from Beckenham School in Christchurch testing the water quality of the Heathcote river using the Little Water Sensor kits developed by the MIT Little Devices Group as part of Sensing City’s water quality pilot project.