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SCP E130 Promoting Health in our Smart Communities, with Sophia Arkinstall

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a fantastic conversation with Sophia Arkinstall. Sophia is the Project Lead at Springfield City Group in the Health, Education and Smart City Division, and she’s also an MBA candidate at the University of Queensland. Sophia is passionate about creating healthier and happier cities through creativity, sustainability and design. In this episode, we discuss how we can bring that health aspect into the Smart City and why it’s so important to do so, as well as the lessons on this that Sophia has learned from visiting various countries and cities around the world, including France, Switzerland, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates. Sophia also tells us how she sees Australia embracing Smart Community concepts, and about the learning city projects she’s working on right now to help with the Smart People aspect of Smart Cities. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of the economic impact of sustainable practices, and the health impacts of commuting. This is the fourth episode in my #selfcareseptember series about wellbeing in our cities and communities, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. As always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I’ve enjoyed making it!

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Sophia’s background in public health and her passion for healthier, happier cities
  • What sparked Sophia’s interest in the Smart Community concept and what a Smart City means to her
  • Why it’s so important to bring health into the Smart City and Community
  • The pros and cons of how Australia is currently embracing
  • The lessons Sophia has learned from visiting various countries and cities around the world, including France, Switzerland, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates
  • The power of policy and top down directives, as well as bottom up approaches
  • Some of the projects Sophia is working on right now, including a Learning City project to help with the Smart People aspect of Smart Cities
  • The emerging trends of the economic impact of sustainable practices, and the health impacts of commuting


“Public health for me was all about healthy urban areas. And that’s how public health really started—with eradicating disease and communicable disease, particularly through hygiene in cities…Health is [about] 80% derived from our environment, so our socio economic status, and where we live. Cities really [have] a big impact on that.”

“[A Smart City is] all about the people. I’m looking at cities in a way where the systems and the tech actually has a direct impact on the health and the happiness, the wellness of the people who live there.”

“The fundamentals of a healthy and Smart City still are so important in many parts of the world, for instance sewerage and hygiene. From an Australian perspective…we [need to] take into account the future and the current trends around disease. We need to do more to prevent illness, and cities play a huge role in that through health promotion.”

“Globally, health is going in a way that is more digital, more personalised medicine. There is an aspect for cities to play a part in that, particularly from the health promotion perspective. Using data to understand how people commute to work, or how much time they are spending commuting, how many people are using the parks and walkways; that sort of data really can help cities understand the health and the wellness of the citizens, and how active and utilised particular zones are.”

“That Smart People aspect of what you need for a Smart City is obviously a really engaged population, where people have the ability to engage in lifelong learning and in every aspect of their life, whether that be at school, at home, in the community, in parks, in libraries: everywhere is an opportunity within the space to learn.”

[audiogram] “Sustainability really has an economic impact on us in terms of investment in the long term and now. I think some people, some businesses and cities think of sustainability as sort of like a difficult thing to hurdle in the immediate short term. But realistically, people are investing in companies and cities and initiatives that take into account sustainability. Because there’s less risk in a company or an initiative that has thought about the long term sustainability from an environmental perspective on that project. So that has big impacts on finance. And I know, for instance, from the startup ecosystem, if your startup doesn’t consider the environmental impact, or have a culture that supports a real way to deal with the environmental impact of whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s harder to get funding.”

“We should be talking about commuting a little bit more… it’s about having services, employment, schools, and all the facilities that you need close by. Because [commuting] has a real impact on people’s health and wellness, and not just their physical health, but their mental health, too.”


Dubai World Expo 2020

City Deals Policy

OnG French multinational

Inaugraaul Festival of Learning

Springfield learning city https://www.greaterspringfield.com.au/greater-springfield-a-learning-city/

Sophie’s videos on LinkedIn

Paris, ESSEC business school? ESSEC Business School (Paris)

Barcelona Super Block?

30 minute cities


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

Connect with Sophia via LinkedIn, on Twitter @sophieark or check out her videos on YouTube

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



  1. SCP E131 Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities? (Part 3) – The Smart Community Podcast - […] Sophia Arkinstall from Episode 130 […]

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