In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe has a really interesting chat with Lisa McLean, CEO of the Open Cities Alliance. Lisa covers her passion for Next Generation Infrastructure, what that is, and why Smart Community or Next Gen thinking is so important. Zoe and Lisa discuss how Lisa sees Australia embracing Smart Concepts and some of the projects Lisa is currently working on, as well as what Open Cities does. They then talk about the convergence of utilities like water, waste and energy that used to be separate but that are now becoming more interconnected, and the power of aggregating voices to move government policy, breakdown silos and improve integration. Zoe and Lisa finish their chat discussing the emerging trends of the new utility model and the circular economy, as well as “prosumers” and why we need new business models in the future. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Lisa’s background in political journalism and global Zero Carbon economy campaigns, and her passion for Next Gen Infrastructure
  • What sparked Lisa’s interest in Smart Concepts and what a Smart Community is to her
  • What the ‘Next Gen Infrastructure’ terminology means
  • Why Lisa believes Smart Community and Next Generation concepts are so important
  • The problem of microplastics as one example of the ways the ‘throwaway’ society we live in isn’t working
  • The role of government in moving to Next Generation thinking, not just infrastructure
  • How Lisa sees Australia embracing Smart Concepts, and why local it’s time for dinosaur thinking to stop
  • Projects Lisa is working on at the moment, including a ‘Five Steps to Next Gen Infrastructure’ playbook for local councils
  • What Open Cities is and does, and their ethos
  • The convergence of utilities that used to be separate (water, waste, energy)
  • The power of aggregating voices to move government policy, breakdown silos and improve integration
  • The emerging trends of the new utility model and the circular economy
  • ‘Prosumers’ and the different business model thinking that is needed for the future


“We’re all about opening up our markets to more sustainable businesses, recycling of water and waste, local energy generation, shared mobility and electrification of our mobility, all those essential services. Open Cities is looking to get away from the business as usual and all the things we’ve been doing in the past. We want to open up our markets to that future.”

“For us a Smart Community is a community that can generate its own water and energy. It’s a community that is self-sufficient, and can head towards climate positive, which is beyond Zero Carbon, where they can actually have excess water and energy, and it’s a community that also can pay less for its utility bills.”

“We use the term ‘Next Gen Infrastructure’, because it’s just new ways of doing things, instead of us living in this linear society… Next Gen Infrastructure is water recycling infrastructure that you can keep at a precinct scale or in a home. Next Gen Infrastructure is solar—we’ve got enough solar force to provide everybody with free energy…Shared mobility is another example, and autonomous vehicles as well.”

“In this Next Gen Infrastructure space, the utilities are actually converging. Water is energy, waste is energy too, and we’re looking at how we can use water at a precinct scale to provide heating and cooling [or] use solar spill to provide energy for EVs. How can we look at all these different utility sectors? How do they converge at a precinct scale to create better solutions for people that are sustainable?”

“[The trend of prosumers] is our own ability to get free energy from the sun, to use it ourselves as a consumer, and then to produce it and sell it.”


Connect with Lisa via the Open Cities website or email or call 0488 068 777

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Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community 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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