SCP E53: Using technology to empower people to solve real problems, with Alvaro Maz


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had a great conversation with Alvaro Maz from Code for Australia. This episode isn’t about coding, it’s about using technology to empower people to solve real problems, which is a concept that I love. We discuss a lot of things including the changing ways of work and the importance of creating exciting and interesting projects to attract the talent that you want and need in order to keep moving forward. Alvaro and I also talk about about solving some of those boring inefficiencies that happen in Government and organisations, which you know I’m so passionate about. So as always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover:

  • Alvaro’s background in international relations, philosophy and urban planning and what sparked his interest in this space.
  • Why he’s passionate about opening up opportunities for people to use their talent on things that matter
  • What he thinks a Smart City is and why it’s so important
  • Some of the gaps in how Australia is embracing the Smart City concept
  • Alvaro’s work with Code for Australia and the other projects he’s working on
  • The importance of creating interesting opportunities in order to better integrate across different disciplines and government sectors, and why it’s not always about the money
  • The changing world of work and why future generations are going to laugh at the fact that we have ongoing full time jobs
  • How regulations, work and democracy needs to evolve
  • The emerging trend that people aren’t talking about enough of there being too many trends, too much talking and not enough doing!
  • The importance of solving the boring but important problems, inefficient processes and things that impact many people if they fail and why we need to prioritise this over sexy new tech


“There’s a lot of talent and experience that is not being used at the moment because of the way that we’ve constructed our society…I try to open up opportunities for people to use their talent on things that matter.”

“There’s a lot of buzz words that you can apply to [Smart Cities]…but ultimately it’s a city that is inclusive, that is sustainable and that evolves with the population.”

“We’re treating Smart Cities as a silo-ed thing…so if we’re going to be doing something seriously, it needs to be common practice and it needs to be embedded into the everyday practice of everyone.”

“We believe technology can open up opportunities to meaningfully impact the public sphere.”

“It’s often technology that is not super sexy but it’s tools and processes that help people that have a lot more at stake than what we do, and where cool and new technology is not applied but where there is a massive need.”

“What we’ve found with Code for Australia is that you can attract super, mega talented people not necessarily with those big wages that big tech companies have. The very first thing is creating interesting opportunities that have purpose and autonomy.”

“The world is evolving, cities are evolving, work is evolving, so should all the other things that encompass that.”

“There’s too many trends and too much talking and not so much doing…There’s a tonne of stuff that needs to be fixed but because of those trendy things we don’t pay enough attention to them.”

“[Insert Buzz Word Here] is like the new teenage sex: everyone claims to have done it but the reality is very different.”

“We’ve estimated that over 90% of government IT projects over 10 million dollars fail…if we can move the needle 5 degrees we can save hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“A group of people have a lot at stake if this thing doesn’t work….and so focusing on that because there’s no reason that in this day and age these things should be clunky.” ~ Zoe


Connect with Alvaro on Twitter @alvaromaz or via the Code For Australia open Slack. You can find this via the website,

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

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