Episode Archive

Digital Transformation in Smart Communities with Hyma Vulpala

Welcome to the My Smart Community Blog series. We are excited to bring you original content on a regular basis sharing insights and expertise from interviews with #smart professionals from around the world and thoughts pieces from our CEO Zoe Eather.

In this week’s blog Zoe sat down with Head of Digital & Data for Yarra Ranges Council (Victoria), Hyma Vulpala to talk about digital transformation, embracing change and skillset shortages.

Can you tell us about your background and what you’re passionate about?

My background is in IT and digital and I’ve been working in this industry for last two decades. My passion is for digital as it gives me the opportunities to learn and evolve with the changing times we live in. 

What sparked your interest in Smart Communities?

I was really attracted to a few areas of the Smart Community environment. The first is connectivity and how it creates opportunities to increase engagement with the community. It’s great how we can improve liveability and gain operational efficiencies through using Smart Community strategies. And just solve problems in general.

What is a Smart Community to you?

A Smart Community means harnessing technological advancements and taking advantage of the opportunities to modernise service delivery. Also, going back to what attracted me to the Smart Community area in the first place, improving liveability.

Why do you think the Smart Community concept is important?

As society moves to a more technology-based environment, digital and data have revolutionised the way we live and work. There is an exponential availability of data that is allowing us to improve sustainability, increased opportunities to develop economically and enhance our quality of life factors. Also, I think as climate change is an ever-pressing issue, there is the potential that the concepts behind Smart Communities can help ease the effects and consequences of climate change. 

How do you think Australia is embracing the Smart Community concept?

I think we are progressively adopting the opportunities. Some sectors such as local government are slowly realising the benefits. I do think, however many industries including agriculture, transport and utilities, are moving to being at the forefront of Internet of Things and are embracing Smart Community concepts. 

How do you think we can better integrate across disciplines, government and industries?

Good question. There are many things that we are doing as part of our digital transformation process which involve working across multiple disciplines internally, and externally with academia and industry. We all need to do more because I think the community will expect this to happen sooner rather than later by taking control of decision making. 

What are the emerging trends that people aren’t talking about?

I think there are a few. The first is that in technology and data are creating new opportunities in many traditional industries; transportation, hospitality and medical among others. We need to discuss how this will affect future employment and the skills that will be needed in these areas as they will be different to the current skills required and available. 

The second is related to the first one. We aren’t sure what new skills are necessary for the future therefore, we aren’t preparing for this.  

And lastly, we need to ensure we embrace the opportunities that comes with the data that is both currently available and the data we are creating every second. 

Where to next for Smart Communities?

There are many potential areas! Things we need to consider are hyper-connectivity, process automation, disaster response and autonomous transportation, just to name a few. I would love to see how we can use Smart Community strategies to reduce carbon emissions, minimise costs and increase performance across all industries. 

I also think the areas of city budgeting and neighbourhood decision making could be the next trend in Smart Communities and there’s a lot that could come from that. No one knows exactly where we are going but I’m excited to be involved in getting there. 

How can people connect with you?

Using my Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hymav/. Feel free to connect or send me a message. 


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