Smart cities: putting citizens at the centre

By June, 2017ICT, Local
Assessing how far Australian cities have come in creating smart cities for themselves and why they are putting citizens at the centre of their agenda.

Image: Matthias Ripp/flickr

Cities across Australia have made considerable effort to move with the times and integrate their systems as part of a long term strategy to become more digitally savvy.

Of course, we’re talking about ‘smart cities’, which have become all the rage in the last few years, but ultimately it’s just a label that helps to describe cities that have digitally connected their existing systems like parking, street lighting and other essential services, so that they deliver their service to the community while being more properly monitored by the city council.

Well now a new report titled ‘How smart are Australian cities?‘ has come that assesses how far Australian cities have moved into the digital ‘smart city’ arena.

The report, created with the support of the United States Studies Centre and the Future Cities Collaborative at the University of Sydney, and written by Former Director of the Collaborative Sandy Burgoyne, and Sophia Maalsen, Ian Fell Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Sydney, aims to provide new insights into the implementation of smart cities in Australia – how these initiatives are being implemented in cities, whether they are fulfilling their promises, the challenges involved and how cities can learn from each other.

As local governments are facing new urban challenges that place them on a new level of competitiveness, especially as the federal government is providing grants to councils that can best demonstrate its use of smart city strategy, the importance of such a report from a leading academic think-tank makes it a useful benchmark for councils wanting to learn from the nation’s most successful smart city pioneers.

One of the key observations of the report was that ‘citizens are at the centre of smart city strategies’, noting that “city governments are using raw data and technology as smart approaches to reengage with citizens to co-design and build cities that improve the quality of life for all citizens”.

The report recommended that:

  • Local government should identity and focus on resolving the urban problems that are impacting most on the quality of life of the citizen. In doing so, the city will experience a deeper engagement with all sectors of the community and will garner support of stakeholders, including elected leaders, administrators and industry.
  • Local governments should know and understand the changing local demographics to be better positioned to co-create solutions which meet the needs of the community as they change.
  • Local governments need an agile and flexible approach to design solutions that best suit the task or problem in focus.

Read more from the report, and GovNews will deliver more analysis on its recommendations.

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