SCP E51: Smart Local Councils and Communities (Part 1), with Bronwyn Voyce


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast I had a great chat with a fellow member of the Future Leaders, Future Cities Delegation, Bronwyn Voyce. Currently a consultant at GWI, she has a wide and varied background which we dive deep into in this episode. We talk about the concept of Smart Councils and how Smart Cities are a way for us to reach our potential. We also cover the sharing economy, policy, data access and some of our reflections on the Smart City space in Japan and Hong Kong. This is a 2-part interview, so stay tuned for the rest of our conversation in Part 2 coming soon!

Listen here:

What we cover:

  • Bronwyn’s varied work background and what she’s passionate about
  • How a Masters in Economic Development and being elected to local council led to her interest in Smart Cities
  • What a Smart City is to Bronwyn and why she advocates for Smart Local Councils
  • The importance of addressing today’s problems while still enabling potential to arise
  • A pertinent example that demonstrates why we need a planning scheme that thinks about the sharing economy and urban mobility
  • The need for collaboration and communication between the community and local government to try to catch up, get off the back-foot and prevent us from getting ‘uberised’ again
  • Observations and reflections about how Tokyo and Hong Kong and how they’re embracing the Smart City Concept


“[Being in local council] was one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging times of my life.”

“[Economic development] is thinking about new ways to enhance the operating environment for businesses to operate, for jobs to be created and ultimately improve the liability, invest-ability and financial sustainability of a region. Smart Cities fits all around that.”

“How do I make my place better? What’s happening in the bigger world out there? What can we learn from what other places are doing? And how can we apply that in a way that is relevant to a rural town or a regional city, or an urban and metropolitan area? There’s not one answer for any of that.”

“With local government being the absolutely fundamental stakeholder in building this thing we call Smart Cities, there needs to be a Smart Council or a Smart Local Government component. And that actually starts with some really simple stuff around digital transformation.”

“[Smart Local Government is] the way that we deliver our services, the way that we use data and information to meet the needs of our citizens and our residents, and in a way that solves problems of the people that are living in our place.”

“Smart Community …is really about how we are thinking about enabling the way that we live our lives, the way we do business, the way we work, the way we access services (future of work, mobility) …it’s about human centred design for me in the first instance.”

“It’s really about how do we use data, how do we use human centred design to make better places for people to live and visit, do business, have jobs, learn and so forth.”

“It’s about addressing today’s problems but it’s also about thinking about the future, which is a very challenging thing to do sometimes when you just have to worry about delivering services today.”

“The Smarts are in using the data that we have access to and the problems that people are telling us that they have now.”

“The best way that I can describe the contrast between Tokyo and Hong Kong was order versus chaos, but both of them were incredibly amazing.”


Connect with Bronwyn on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or Email 

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E50: Bonus | Key themes from the Future Cities, Future Leaders Delegation


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I cover some of the key themes from the recent Future Cities, Future Leaders delegation to Japan, led by the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Investment, Steven Ciobo. I share 11 of my insights from the trip, and talk a little bit about the Churchill Fellowship I’ve applied for as well.

I also share an anecdote of what happened just after the delegation when I got evacuated from Kyoto and how I realised I was alone in the world except for Siri and Google!

Listen here:

My 11 insights are:

  1. A delegation with diverse work backgrounds made for great conversations
  2. Relationship building is key
  3. Japan is focusing on the 3 Ps: people, production/productivity and participation.
  4. Australia can offer a lot in the global Smart Cities conversation
  5. There are peaks and troughs of technology use in Japan
  6. Three days was not long enough! This is only the beginning
  7. There are similarities between my experience in Japan and Korea
  8. There are some fantastic people working the Smart City space in Australia
  9. Toll booths!
  10. The differences between the Australian and Japanese approach to innovation
  11. The similar challenges of an ageing population, declining population and urban migration

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcasts is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E49: Urbanism, tech and meaningful Smart Cities, with Nicola Balch

SmartCityPodcast_BlogTitleImage_Episode49In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I interview Nicola Balch. We had a great chat about urbanism and tech. Nicola is an associate at McGregor Coxall. We also talked about the intelligent use of data, including why we need to be thinking about the metrics: why we want to collect certain data and what it is we will use the data for. Nicola shared about a number of different projects across the world, which I found really interesting.

Listen Here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Nicola’s background in architecture and urban design, and how winning a competition sparked her interested in the Smart City space
  • Why she’s kind of strict about her definition of Smart Cities
  • How the UK is embracing the Smart City concept and why Bristol has a positive approach
  • The need for a holistic rather than product-based approach to Smart cities
  • The issue with the mega-player centric approach and why we need the smaller players involved to better integrate across disciplines
  • Projects Nicola’s currently working on, including Smart Carpet
  • The importance of taking a global approach and what Nicola learned on her traveling scholarship last year
  • How the LinkNYC kiosks can be an example of what not to do
  • The need to look beyond the cool techie perspective and have more community-centric rigour in the design process,
  • The emerging trends of place metrics, cultural parameters, and qualitative aspects of space
  • The EU Project Create Project
  • Quantifying the vision-oriented, qualitative projects to help projects gain funding


“I’m really interested in how we can use data to empower and engage with communities to create long term, meaningful change. So not just the idea of using data but really questioning how we can use it to test and change cities for the better in a way that actually empowers and works with communities.”

“I believe that if we start being really flexible in how we define things then it enables them sometimes to be used for purposes that might not necessarily be appropriate.”

“I think a Smart City is one that intelligently uses and responds to data, particularly live data…It’s really highly related to ICT, IOT and the tech side of things.”

“As we move through, because we’re going to have tech more and more in our lives, Smart Cities is just going to become a conversation about cities again.”

“Putting people at the centre, looking at the issues and the advocacy needs, and then raising the question, ‘What can technology do to help achieve outcomes on top of that?’”

“Technology companies hopefully will start employing a lot more people who have engaged academically and professionally in the urban environment, to really start to think about Smart Cities from a much more holistic and integrated perspective rather than the development and deployment of products.”

“Our education institutions have a huge role in Smart Cities and that will hopefully start to grow. A better cross-disciplinary response means looking at more creative ways to bring in smaller practices and people doing interesting things with technology rather than relying on the big players. I think the industry is really mega-player centric at the moment.”

“It takes a look at how Smart Cities projects are funded and driven today….We need to have a look at different ways of initiating and funding these projects to make them accessible to more people. Then we’ll start to really see diversity.”

“When you actually really start to engage with the most complex parameter of the city, and that is people, then we start to see these really interesting questions that come up.”

“It’s a shift in terms of “What do we want to measure, and why?” and then seeing whether or not technology can do that.”


Urban Land Institute Global Ideas Competition: George St 2020

McGregor Coxall’s Smart Carpet project that won the London Smart City competition

Bristol Smart City Research and Development Platform

Byera Hadley traveling scholarship with Architecture Registrations Board

The Array of Things in Chicago

Link NYC

Kylie Legg of Place Partners (check out Kylie’s episode SCP EP15)

Peter Jones from UCL

The EU Create Project


Connect with Nicola on LinkedIn or Twitter @NixBalch, or email her

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E48: Different approaches to Smart Cities, with Janice Lee


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast I interview Janice Lee. Janice is the Director of Infrastructure Advisory at EY and also recently joined me on the Future Leaders, Future Cities delegation to Japan. It was really great to hang out with Janice in person in Japan, and in this episode we discuss our observations; we talk about how Australia and Japan are approaching the Smart City space differently, but also how some things are exactly the same. We also discuss work that Janice is doing in the government advisory in the Smart City space, and the emerging trends that other people aren’t talking about in depth. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Janice’s background in government in economic and infrastructure portfolios and why she is passionate about what public policy
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart City space and long term planning for transport
  • What a Smart City is to Janice and why she believes it’s so important
  • Similarities and differences between Japan and Australia’s approach to Smart Cities
  • The importance of resilience to cities in Japan’s city solutions
  • Why we don’t need to wait for future tech and how to make a Smart City while still using Windows 98
  • The tension between the technology and how it gets used
  • How Australia is embracing the Smart City concept and the opportunities for how to make our cities digitally enabled
  • What inspired Janice about her experience in Japan
  • Why Janice and EY are evolving their services and practices for resilience, citizen centricity, ecosystem collaboration and data/tech enablement
  • The challenge of integrating across different disciplines, governments and private sector
  • The emerging trends of data and integration and collaboration


“The things that I’m most passionate about really are just what public policy can do for improving the way governments think about some of the problems that citizens face and what it can do in terms of applying good discipline, data and analysis to solve those problems.”

“What is the role of high quality infrastructure in making cities function really well, in making them prepared for growth?”

“There’s a huge potential in the way in which technology is developing at the moment just to reimagine how some of this traditional infrastructure networks deliver and how they service citizens.”

“In my mind [a Smart City] is really about a city that uses technology and digital enablement to improve the wellbeing of citizens, and to improve the liveability of that city.”

“How do we work with this trend of urbanisation that we’re seeing to actually make sure that individuals aren’t left behind, and that they’re able to live in this inclusive way within these very large groupings of people within cities?”

“Because cities are these vast and complex physical and social networks, and all around the world we’re seeing massive urbanisation…cities can capture both the best and the worst of places, and they can have these incredible opportunities that are created by that density and that diversity, but they can also have really intractable problems around affordability, safety, …poor planning.”

“It’s never about the technology, it’s about how it gets used. Who adopts it, in what ways does it change the delivery of services…how do we harness that?”

“I really felt inspired after our Japan trip. I saw a complementarity…a difference in emphasis between the Japanese and Australian companies, but also a difference in approach…I left thinking there are some real opportunities for partnership here.”

“The integration piece is really the challenge, because we’re seeing already these pockets of innovation happening all over the place but what is missing is the piece that brings it all together.”

Links and resources:

Japan’s concept of Society 5.0


Adam Fennessy


Connect to Janice on LinkedIn

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E47: The power of Smart concepts in regional areas, with Neil Glentworth


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had an awesome chat with Neil Glentworth. Neil is the Executive Chairman at GWI and he is passionate about the ethical use of data to make informed decisions. He is also passionate about Smart happening in the regions, which of course I love, so we had some great conversation about what the regions are doing in this space. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Why he’s passionate about economics and data

  • What a Smart City to him is and why he believes it’s so important

  • The challenges of urbanisation on coastal Australia

  • Projects GWI are currently working on with different regional areas

  • The superficial way Australia is embracing the Smart City concept

  • The tough conversations we need to be having about automation

  • Why it’s so important that we better integrate across the disciplines

  • The mistakes city dwellers make when thinking about and talking about regional areas

  • Some of the ways the regions are making better decisions using Smart ideas

  • The ethical and moral dilemmas that we face in our use of data
  • The impact of GDPR on businesses and consumers
  • Emerging trends in regional areas


“I’m interested in civic innovation, in communities taking control of their social and economic wellbeing.”

“A Smart City to me has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with community choice. That is a choice to interact with transport, to interact with buildings, to interact with open green spaces. It is a choice so that local governments, state governments, federal governments can make better decisions of the scarce allocation of resources. Ultimately enabled by technology but at its core it’s about people and how people fulfil their social and economic needs.”

“There’s a real challenge in Australia that we have some very big handbrakes on the wider economy and there’s a lot of superficiality about it. There are some communities who are really committed, really forward thinking, but when the reality of so many jobs could face automation, there isn’t the economic density, we actually need to double down on the whole focus of how we reinvent our urban environments and our regional environments. I personally don’t believe we’re taking it as seriously as we could be, because the impacts are so great.”

“One of the mistakes that we can often make being city dwellers is discounting how advanced some of the regions are, and also woe the ‘poor regions’. Far from it…. They’re incredibly advanced, we just don’t hear a lot about it, which is a shame.”

“Just because you’ve got data doesn’t mean you should use it…We can use data for good, but we can also use it to cause a bit of harm as well, so the real emerging trend is people starting to deep think about the use of data.”

“At the heart of anything Smart, where we use data, is treating people as individuals, not as a group.”

“[On GDPR] Those businesses that have been acting ethically, no change. It is more making the customers aware that data basically is the customer’s own.”

“There is a very different level of community resilience in the regional areas where people just get on and make things happen…the tyranny of distance is gone through connectivity, and regardless of how good or bad the connectivity is, they’re making the most of it.”

“People are thinking different [sic] and are changing the game. There is not enough attention on what is going on in the regions. If they got even a fraction of the money that is going into the urban areas.”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Professor John Cole

Marcus Foth on the Smart City Podcast Episode 4

RAPAD: Remote Area Planning and Development Board

Off the Track Training


Connect with Neil through LinkedIn or on the GWI website.

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E46: BONUS | Smart Chats from the Future Leaders delegation to Japan


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast I come to you all the way from Japan. I’m here on an AusTrade delegation with the Honourable Steven Ciobo, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and we have had such an amazing time. First, each member of the delegation will introduce themselves and give you a short snippet of their companies. Then I get some reflections from 4 of the 13 delegates. As always, I really hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

The four delegates who give their reflections are Janice Lee, John O’Callaghan, Tim Lucas and Emma Hendry. The other delegates you hear from in the beginning are Ashleigh Morris, Bronwyn Voyce, Andy Roberts, Gabrielle Hall and Katherine Tobias as well as prior podcast guests Brian Ashton, Nick Kamols, Marika Svikas and Dan Barr.

Listen here:


Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

SCP E45: Connectivity and Collaboration for Smart Communities, with Daniel Fletcher


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had some great discussions with Daniel Fletcher. Daniel is the General Manager of Communities for the Central Highlands Regional Council in Queensland. He is very passionate about supporting and nourishing regional communities. As you know, I am also very passionate about the regional areas, so Daniel and I had some great conversations about this. Daniel also shares about what Central Highlands Regional Council is doing in the Smart City space, and how he is trying to close the technology gap for the community.

Listen Here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Daniel’s background in psychology and criminology, and local government
  • How his experiences in Slovenia and Europe shaped his thinking around and passion for communities
  • What sparked his interest in the Smart City Space and Smart Communities he’s witnessed
  • Daniel’s definition of a Smart City or Smart Community
  • Why it’s important to make intelligent decisions on behalf of the community, now more than ever
  • Projects Daniel’s currently working on
  • The impact of the digital divide on regional communities and why Council is going to get involved in facilitating citizens with their banks
  • How and why projects and infrastructure are now including digital components built it in
  • The digital and other challenges faced in regional, rural and remote areas, not only in keeping current people but also in attracting people to the area
  • How to better integrate across the industries, and the city/regions
  • The problem with Australia’s competitive sporting nature in collaborating on Smart Cities projects
  • Why it’s so important that we place the value on the connection between people while we continue to embrace ever increasing technological advancements
  • The emerging trend of decentralisation of major cities in Australia
  • The challenges facing Australia from cryptocurrencies


“All of my work in some way shape or form has been connected to the community or a community approach to things. I’m definitely really keen to maintain that within my career and I’m very passionate about liveable, attractive and economically sustainable communities.”

“I’ve had the opportunities to see lots of different communities, lots of different cultures, lots of different ways that they embed what is a Smart City [and] Smart Community Approach.”

“A Smart Community is digitally connected to its infrastructure, citizens and future.”

“At any moment we should not fear losing what we once were as a community and be able to embrace something different which is going to be able to provide benefit for all. There’s a real balance between that fear of the technology and the warp speed at which it’s taking over some of our lives, but I think that’s probably why it’s so important that we start to embed that in our decision making. It’s happening whether we like it or not, and we just need to find a way for it to be an essential part of decision making.”

“Regionally we’re certainly disadvantaged. There is a digital divide, whether we’re able to quantify it or not…and we’re suffering in regional areas from the advancement of other commercial businesses.”

“Our investment as a local government into those small communities is going to be critical to not only maintaining the actual community itself, but also to keeping the regional communities up to speed with the advancement of technology in the digital economy.”

“The attractiveness of an area is now highly dictated by the fact of it being connected to the internet.”

“It’s amazing what can be achieved when you do not care who gets the credit.”

“As a country, we’re inherently competitive…internally we really struggle to see the benefits from collaborating.”

“I’m hoping that the continual conversation around collaboration as opposed to competitiveness is going to see some changes in [integrating across disciplines.]”

“We [in Australia] have an abundance of land and space. Some of the challenges include water security and being able to allocate that appropriately for communities. But I think one of the really big trends that technology will help solve in some way is manifesting itself in the decentralisation of major cities in Australia.”


Connect with Daniel on LinkedIn

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is Produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.