SCP E119 Using data to enable change and foster inclusivity, with Aileen Gemma Smith

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a fascinating conversation with Aileen Gemma Smith the CEO at Vizalytics Technology Incorporated. Aileen Gemma tells us a bit about her very varied background from English Literature to Allied Health to data analytics, and how she became interested in the Smart City and Community space.

We discuss why it’s so important to understand the needs of all users so we can better deliver services to our community, and how data can help do us do this. Aileen Gemma also tells us how she sees Australia embracing Smart Concepts and some of the projects she’s working on right now, including with Transport NSW. We then discuss the power of having executive buy in and support to empower and enable teams to do things differently, and she uses the term ‘fluency’ to define the different and varied expertise and experiences we all have, and why we really need to be honouring and respecting our different expertise, experiences and fluencies when it comes time to integrate across disciplines.

Aileen Gemma and I then have a fantastic chat about changing the narratives for emerging women leaders in tech and bringing more diversity to our conversations so we can foster inclusivity. Finally, we finish our conversation discussing the lack of awareness about how much context matters when it comes to AI and machine learning, and the need for far more tech and data literacy across the board. 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:

  • Aileen’s very varied background in English Literature, Allied Health and data analytics in Japan, the US and Australia
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart Community space and why it’s so important
  • Understanding the needs of all users so we can better deliver services to our community
  • How Australia is embracing Smart concepts
  • The power of executive buy in and support to empower and enable teams to do things differently
  • The opportunity in the public sector partnering with and learning from the private sector’s iterative approach to continually develop along the way
  • The different levels and types of fluency in various expertise, and the power of connectors translating and facilitating discussions/Honouring and respecting our different expertise, experiences and fluencies
  • Projects Aileen is working on right now, including with Transport NSW and a way finding tool in New York
  • Changing the narratives for emerging women leaders in tech
  • Changing conversations, bringing more diversity to our conversations to foster inclusivity
  • The emerging trend that we’re not talking about and don’t understand enough of how much context matters in AI and machine learning
  • The misunderstandings and mis-statements about data
  • The need for more tech and data literacy and how we can facilitate that education

Quotes:

“I was completely frustrated that there was data and information absolutely available that could make a difference for citizens, whether you’re a retired senior citizen or a local shop keeper, and [people with access to that data] weren’t making an effort to say, “Let’s put this together in a way that makes sense for these folks. Let’s create new kinds of solutions.” Because I guess a lot of people thought those aren’t sexy problems…I thought there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

“I think a Smart City is something that’s inclusive for everyone. Whether you’re a retired senior citizens, someone who has just moved there two years ago, or a local business owner, a Smart City solution has to be something that keeps you as part of that conversation.”

“That’s the challenge and frustration, right? If you look at various resources that different cities have in place, this is great a wonderful but if I’m a senior citizen and I don’t know that I can go to that website and navigate and find that information, I’m not using that resource, and then that’s a disservice. So we have to think about how can we give not only more awareness, but are you making these tools use-able?”

“There’s a willingness there, and I think there’s an opportunity in public and private partnerships to say, ‘Let’s try to do this a little bit better.’”

“When you come to it with we’re honouring and respecting the fact that we’ve all got a different experience an da different lens on it, that changes it…to ‘we’re a team, we’re all working together, let’s work towards the greater good.’”

“I don’t think that there’s enough talk about how much context matters in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning…I think folks miss out on how powerful context is, as well as in some cases how hard it actually is.”

Connect:

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community

Connect with Aileen via LinkedIn or on Twitter @aileengemma

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

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