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Don’t miss Australia’s leading smart city event

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In just over a month Australia’s leading smart city event will take place in Melbourne (10 and 11 May), organised by the Australian Smart Community Association (ASCA). One of the main reasons I call this the leading smart city event is that this is the only smart city conference in Australia where half of the delegates are from local and state government. These are the most important organisations with the power to create smart cities – of course in collaboration with industry and academia. But it is the local councils that need to take leadership in these developments.

Thanks to the federal government’s initiative, its national smart city policy, the concept of smart cities and smart communities is now well and truly on the agenda. ASCA has played a leadership role in supporting the national initiative, especially in moving the concept beyond the metro cities.

However I am currently concentrating my efforts on turning this policy around. The cities should be in the driver’s seat of smart cities policy-making – of course, in very close collaboration with, and with the all-important support of, state and federal government.

I recently compared our policy with that of the Netherlands.

The conference in May is the unique once-a-year opportunity for local councils to hear the latest developments; to learn from each other; to make contact with other towns and cities to explore cooperation and to meet with academia, private industry and state and federal government officials involved in smart cities.

Collaboration between all three levels of government, as well as with the other parties, is essential for smart cities and communities to become a reality.

There is no quick fix and a strategic approach to these developments is essential. These are long-haul (10- to 20-year) developments that are set in motion, so we must make sure that we start off on the right footing. This is not about isolated projects, which so far have ended in thousands of ‘death by pilot’ projects around the world. We need to do better and the conference is an ideal place to start creating those strategic relationships.

Unfortunately I will miss this year’s event as I am on a three-month sabbatical in Europe. I will discuss the international collaboration between Australian and Dutch cities while in the Netherlands (there are now three projects underway). I will speak at a conference in Yerevan, Armenia, and will be visiting smart cities in Iceland, Norway, France and Russia. So plenty to report on while I am on this trip.

However Australia is not behind any of the other smart cities developments around the world. No one city anywhere is a clear leader; there are many leaders and some Australian cities are certainly part of that group. For those attending the conference I would suggest making sure that you meet up with representatives of this group. They include: Adelaide, Bendigo, Melbourne Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Sydney, Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay.

These cities are very open to sharing their experiences with others and you shouldn’t miss that opportunity at the conference.

Wishing you all a very successful conference, and congratulations to ASCA for organising this unique event.

Paul Budde

Click here for more information on the conference.