On 18th March 2016, a diverse group of talents, with international and local culture background, and innovation, design, business, engineering and politics knowledge background, coming together and formed team superglue on the night. The team took on the challenge to design the future Melbourne in 2026 with something original and impactful.
Within 24 hours across Friday night and Saturday, we came up with 2 proposals (Internet of Trees and Yarra River Display) to bring people and nature together in 2026. Team superglue was super proud that we won the 1st prize with $2500 reward and VIP pass to Melbourne knowledge week.
Ok, but how do we get there, and what are IoTrees and Yarra River Display?
Well, let me take you on our journey…
The beginning of our journey started from researching and understanding of what make us proud of Melbourne. After forming the team, we exchanged our whatsapp contacts and passed research findings and brainstormed ideas virtually over the night. We looked into the data of population growth, the future trends of Melbourne City, and some innovative cities around the world. By 11:30pm on Friday night, we got about 25 thought through ideas.
On 9:30 Saturday, we started the discovery of what makes us feel proud, happy and sad of Melbourne. Over the conversation, we discovered that the warmth and connection between people, the clean air and environment, the richness and diversity of our culture, are what set Melbourne apart from other cities.
However, imagining by 2026, the technology is going to be more advanced than ever, and the population in Melbourne City is going to increase by 28%. It deeply concerns us that people may become so busy and isolated that we lose the connection with each other. How can we leverage our culture and natural strength to keep the Melbourne charm? How can we bring different walks of life together, including Melbourne residents, visitors, students and workers together?
We assessed our 25 ideas against originality, impact and pulse (using of data) to see where we can link our ideas to Melbourne’s strength. The team was super open and honest with each other’s feedback and we went through 3P session (Pivot, Persevere and Perish), where eventually we merged 3 key ideas to Yarra River Display idea.
Ok, I am not going to hold it any longer, let’s talk about what it is Yarra River Display.
As of today, what is our Yarra River now but A body of water that is currently only being utilised by boats and rowers. We have in front of us, an untouched, under-utilised resource that is actually being wasted. Imagining we cleaned up the Yarra River and lighted it up as a huge real-time display of sports, events and live music happening in other places around Melbourne. People from different walks of life can gather together with common interests, the street artists around the city can be promoted via this water canvas and create a unique Melbourne phenomenon to attract people all around the world.
But, that’s not the end of it! We were never too content with ourselves so we asked around and pitched around when it was still a post-it note idea. We got some valuable feedback on scalability (because there is only 1 Yarra River in Melbourne). We took that feedback, kept our natural infrastructure direction and brainstormed other applications of our ideas. With some excited discussion in the team, the trees in the parks entered into our realm.
From research, we already know that every tree in the city is tagged and people can email the trees today. From the emails sent to the trees, we learnt that the trees have been the shelter and sanction for homeless people in the past, and people can develop genuine appreciation and care of them. We wanted to take it to the next level, we believe that we can create Green Melbourne where our natural landscape is the medium for us to relax, learn and socialise with nature and other people. We want to see more people develop true relationships with trees and start to care and value them more.
And yes, we pivoted! It’s called internet of trees. In 2026, when Tina (our persona) came out of an exhibition in NGV and walked in the park, Bob (her favourite tree) can sense her mood, greet her and offer meditation, live performance of artist in Bourke Street or introduce her to other tree buddies. And if ever our natural friends need a hand (or a bucket of water), Tina and people like her would come around to help out. In the future, we can see how many connection trees have made with people, and how many connections trees introduce people to other tree buddies. We can also find out how happy people are. All these insight can inform us of how we plan our infrastructure and other city needs we have.
To demonstrate our idea, we even made low-fi play dough prototype to walk people through our idea.
I am thrilled we came up with these ideas where Melbourne can provide unique natural x digital experience for all. The future is so bright and the hack is just the end of a wonderful beginning. The team still has a lot to learn, from people in Melbourne, from experts in different field. And we are all looking forward to the short future we talk to our trees daily. (here is an image our team tried to talk to a tree ;)
Lastly, I wanted to thank you my great team (G, Frankie, Jia Hui, and Ryan), thank you for your creative thinking, hard works, open minds and resilience to evolve as we go along. Thank you for all the coaches (especially PK Rasam, Ren Butler from Bluechilli, and Adam Miller) who gave us constructive feedbacks and have a belief in us. And thank you City of Melbourne, Citylab, ACMI, Bluechilli, Marketing Entourage, Arup to sponsor and support everyone.