In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I interviewed Town Planner and Smart City Entrepreneur, Nick Kamols.  Nick was calling up from Indonesia, where he spent a month with his startup, PowerWells. PowerWells aim is to provide basic access to electricity to remote areas in Indonesia, and is using e-waste to set up small-scale energy supply systems. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, PowerWells will be able to install 120 of these units in a sustainable way. Nick is a fellow member of the Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators, and is doing some really cool stuff in this space. In this episode, we also talk a little bit about drones and powering on with innovation.

Disclaimer: Everything discussed is personal opinion only and does not represent the companies we work for or associated in any way with these companies.

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What we cover in this episode:

  • Nick’s background in town planning and how he became interested in Smart Cities
  • What Nick’s doing in the social enterprise startup space with his start up PowerWells
  • How Nick and his team came up with the plan to use e-waste to address energy inequality
  • The power of mobile phone technology to connect the world
  • The community consultation plan Nick has to address stakeholder engagement from the bottom up
  • What Nick and his team are doing during their 4 – 5 week trip to Indonesia
  • The next steps for Nick in the Smart City space and his involvement in the Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators
  • Where Nick thinks Australia ranks and why we have certain luxuries in how we can approach Smart City solutions
  • The reason Australia is well set up for leading in the drone technology space
  • The possibilities for mass drone aerial displays to take over the night-time crowd entertainment space
  • Why Nick believes Brisbane is a great place to pilot Smart City technology, and why Indonesia has been a good place too
  • The importance of getting involved with and starting projects where you are
  • The interplay between government and innovation
  • Why we need to talk about the impact of emerging trends on people’s lives, not just the emerging trends themselves
  • How you can be involved in the Smart Cities Council, whether you’re an emerging innovator or not


“My interest in Smart Cities came from a keen interest in the future of cities. I believe that Smart Cities is enabling the sort of futures that we want to have…I really see it as using upcoming technologies and connectivity, and just good town planning in general. It’s tools to be able to deliver better outcomes for the people that are living in cities and other sort of settlements.”

“We came up with a plan that uses electronic waste to try an address energy inequality overseas in remote communities that…don’t really have access to electricity…We’re creating little micro-systems of solar power and battery storage that just provide a basic reliable energy supply [that can charge] 40 mobile phones per day and 6 hours of light for a medium-sized communal space each night.”

“There’s definitely strong ethical issues that I’m pondering. What I really love about [PowerWells] is that we’re not doing too much. We’re not going in with some amazing solution, we’re not even introducing mobile phones. People already have them, they have good service coverage, but…you’re not getting the most out of your phone if it takes you two days to charge it.”

“Mobile phones are good, making it easier to charge would be good, and light and electricity is good. With the Smart Cities background, my mind started racing to all these connectivity type things—IOT, value add, linking them up in some kind of network—and then we just went, no, let’s go over there and see what is actually going to benefit the people.”

“I feel that we [Australia] have the luxury to pick and choose what to get involved with. A lot of nation states have pressures that really need Smart Cities [solutions] to be solving their problems right now. We have the luxury to be able to sit back…A lot of the things aren’t a necessity, we’ll be quite fine without them, but we’ll just be a lot better if we do start doing things [in the Smart City space.]”

“I think the best place [to pilot Smart City technology] is whatever city someone is in. Just go out and do it! Move fast, break things. If anyone wants to get involved in stuff, just start doing it right now.”

“Government should never really catch up with innovation. Innovation should always be pushing ahead and Government should always be scrambling to keep up. Because sort of by definition, if governments do catch up, innovation has started to stall.”



You can connect with Nick via email:

You can connect with the Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators on Twitter @scc_innovators or via email:

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

Podcast production by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

My Smart Community

My Smart Community offers consulting and media services with a focus on making our communities more accessible, liveable and sustainable for all. We have a focus on Smart Mobility, Smart project management, Smart technology in regional communities, dealing with disruption and facilitating genuine collaboration. As well as podcast production, communication and media advisory and engagement, keynote speaking, moderating, master of ceremonies and workshop design and facilitation.

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The Smart Community Podcast is a hub where smart and exciting people from all around the world come to discuss all things Smart City, Smart Town, Smart Region - anything that makes a place more liveable. Together we can create our own Smart Communities.


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