In this episode of The Smart City Podcast, I interviewed the Director of Harvest Digital Planning Brian Ashton. Brian is passionate about creating and geospatial technology and combining these two things to help government better engage with the community. Brian and I discuss many things mainly focused around using digital and spatial technology to better engage and integrate across all disciplines, government and community. Brian has some really big and great ideas in this space, some of these include breaking down data silos for better integration, Google Knowledge Graph for planning, testing Smart Tech in real places and thick data to bring social meaning to big data.

Listen here:


“we just thought there was so much opportunity to use technology within planning, and more broadly cities, to help make more informed decisions, based on evidence and data”

“cities are inherently spacial and all of this spacial data and location intelligence is definitely underpinning a lot of these Smart City applications”

“I struggle with the idea of ranking Smart Cities… I don’t know if that’s the best prism we should be looking through…it’s missing the mark a little bit…we should be thinking about…quality of life, sustainability and resilience and then finding a way to correlate that to the Smart Cities work we are doing”

“we want to test [Smart Technology] in real places as much as possible”

“we are not going to be able to integrate across government, community or vendors until we really break down these data silos”

“there’s still a lacking of engagement with the community when it comes to Smart Cities…it’s about thinking about big data and thick data so more qualitative information…collecting stories from the community so you can help qualify the results you are getting from big data…bringing more context and social meaning to big data”

What we covered:

  • Brian’s background in computer systems engineering and passion for creativity
  • Creating digital maps and combining this with sensor data
  • Finding and following Brian’s passion for creating and geospatial technology
  • Starting his company Harvest Digital Planning and their mission
  • Using technology to make better planning decisions and engage the community
  • Spatial data and location intelligence underpinning Smart City applications
  • Governments using spatial information to understand what’s happening in their communities
  • Services offered by Harvest and product The HiVE
  • Participation technology to engage and help government understand the priorities of the community
  • Marrying together offline and online engagement
  • Software as a service model and Australia being progressive in community engagement
  • Ranking cities for quality of life, sustainability and resilience
  • Thinking about the issues and where to pilot Smart Technology
  • Breaking down data silos for integration and Google Knowledge Graph for planning
  • Integration of data and letting people gain their own insights
  • Thick data bringing social context to big data


Harvest Digital Planning

The HiVE


Connect with Brian via LinkedIn or Harvest website

Connect with me via email:, Twitter or Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced 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.

The Smart Community Podcast

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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