Episode Archive

SCP E108 Urban mining and the value of citizen thinking, with Abel Immaraj

In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, Zoe has a fascinating conversation with Abel Immaraj, a consultant and hydraulic engineer with a background in natural resource management and national, state and local water reforms. In this episode, Zoe and Abel discuss the value of citizen thinking and the unintended consequences of individuals adopting technology without thinking of it as a community issue, as well as how he sees Australia embracing the Smart Community concepts. Abel tells us about the concept of urban mining and why the circular economy should always be in the same conversation as Smart Communities, as well as why the nexus of water, energy, waste and the land is so important. Zoe and Abel finish their conversation discussing the emerging trends of information poverty, the increasing complexity of the world, the bundling of service providers and how brokers are now becoming more common to help us navigate the increasing choices we have. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen now:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Abel’s background in hydraulic engineering, natural resource management and advisory work
  • His passion for water and his interest in what makes communities sustainable
  • Why Smart Communities and citizen thinking is so important
  • The unintended consequences of individuals adopting Smart technology without thinking of it as a community issue
  • How Abel sees Australia is currently embracing the Smart Community concept
  • Why the Circular Economy should always be in the same conversation as the Smart Community
  • How important it is for us to understand how we’re connected through water and water enabled cycles
  • The nexus of water, energy, waste and the land
  • The capability we now have to create simulations and games to engage the community in questions around transitioning to new solutions
  • The way catalysts can foster integration and collaboration
  • The concept of urban mining and why it’s an opportunity
  • The emerging trend of information poverty and the increasing complexity of the world
  • The negative consequences of innovations and disruptions
  • The bundling of service providers and how brokers have emerged to help us navigate the increasing number of choices we have


“All the systems on this planet function because of the water cycle. So it’s the host to life and it also connects us from the past well into the future…I’m passionate about learning about water but also how water changes life, how it makes it liveable on this planet.”

“Smart Community now globally has at its foundation the nexus between water, energy and land. That nexus is so important because the water inputs and outputs and the energy inputs and outputs, are somewhat interchangeable…This nexus between these three things is the most important thing that Smart Community needs to be thinking about. “

“More and more people now have communities that are global. They’re part of tribes that are planetary and global, rather than just thinking about that neighbour who is right next door.”

“A Smart Community is not just about today, but it’s also about tomorrow. If we go in for better technology today, have we thought about the end of life issues with batteries? That’s the sort of question that makes it really interesting.”

“Done well, using logistics and Smart Technology, Brisbane should be seen as an urban mine, where companies know where to go for [paper, plastics, aluminium]…We should be able to have a circular economy with that.”

“It’s really good when schools get involved in these sorts of projects [like Containers for Change] because these kids in Year 7 now, in 10 years time they’re going to be the movers and shakers. And when they get these foundational skills…we’re able to keep that transition planning going.”

“We need to be conscious that in a technology-driven solution, we have the ability to check for the unintended consequences.”


The “Cash for Cans” or Containers for Change initiative in Brisbane

The Circular Experiment is the initiative on the Sunshine Coast run by the Morris sisters. Zoe interviewed Ashleigh Morris in Episode 55 of the Smart Community Podcast


Connect with Abel via LinkedIn

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital


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