In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a brilliant conversation with Sofie Pringle, a designer with a passion for creating cities and urban places that increase people’s happiness and mental well-being. She is currently completing a doctorate in urban planning and design at Queensland University of Technology, focusing on the positive and negative effects that design and planning features have on user happiness and well-being. In this episode Sofie tells us about her PhD and what sparked her interest in this space, as well as why she believes there is a gap in the Smart Community conversation around the concept of happiness in the city. We also discuss sustainable urbanisation and the compact city fallacy, and why nurturing our Smart Regional Hubs is so crucial. We finish the chat discussing the emerging trend of the neuroscience research into the impact urban environments have on human brains, and how we’re just not talking about that enough. 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:

  • Sofie’s background in design and her passion for making cities more mentally healthy
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart Community space
  • What a Smart Community is to Sofie and why it’s so important
  • The gap in the Smart City conversation around the happiness of the city
  • Projects Sofie is currently working on, including her PhD studying the impact of urban environments on human happiness
  • How Sofie perceives Australia currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The importance of nurturing Smart Regional hubs
  • The Compact City Fallacy and sustainable urbanisation
  • Why we should think about technology projects as being community projects
  • The power of a culture of trust and collaboration in organisations
  • The opportunities and challenges of integrating across disciplines, industries, governments and academia
  • Disconnecting government initiatives and policies from 4-year political terms and an individual candidate’s political career
  • The emerging trend of the neuroscience research into the impact urban environments have on human brains


“It takes a whole team, and sometimes a whole community, a whole neighbourhood and even a whole country to move society forward in leaps and bounds. It’s not going to be just one particular person, it’s going to be an iterative and a community and collaborative approach that’s really going to start to change what we see in the future.”

“The concept of liveability exists and wellbeing is a well-known term, but I think the understanding of people’s wellbeing in relation to particular urban environment designs and planning features, is a bit of a gap in understanding at the moment.”

“It could be a great idea to have a … board that’s off to the left of the government so that the really important policies and issues that Australia faces are not just governed by an [individual party’s] political term.”

“Where you choose to live will have an impact and an effect on your mental health. Some are more susceptible to it than others of course, but having a general public education about that is important because [we need to understand and unpack people’s motivation to move to the city.]”


Connect with Sofie via LinkedIn or Twitter @sofie_pringle

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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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