In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I had a brilliant conversation with Chris Rowlands, the City Innovation Officer at the City of Greater Bendigo in Victoria. Chris and I discuss his background in Town Planning and why he’s so passionate about making liveable regions and communities. We talk about why Smart City standards are so powerful as principles that can be applied to communities of any size, and as a great platform to start the conversation with communities about what they want their city or town to be in the future. Chris also covers the importance of having many people involved in the conversation and especially of getting children and school students at the table, because it’s their future we’re planning. 

Chris then tells us about the projects he’s been working on at Bendigo, including the Clever Weather IoT project which is a collaboration with La Trobe University. He also shares a great story about how transparent conversations help the City of Bendigo’s Garbage Truck IoT project get buy in from the garbage truck drivers, who are now big advocates for the project.

We finish our chat discussing the advantages and opportunities for Bendigo being in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for collaboration, and the emerging trend of focusing on the boring, foundational pieces and Smart City standards in order to enable the tech trends. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Chris’ background in Town Planning and his passion for making liveable regional communities
  • What sparked his interest in the Smart Regions space
  • The importance of keeping the community at the centre of “future of our places” conversations 
  • What a Smart Community is to Chris and why it’s not just about technology
  • The power of Smart City standards as principles that can be applied to communities of any size, from a town of 300 people to a Capital city like Sydney or Melbourne 
  • Why the Smart Community concept is importance as a platform to have the conversation with community about where the city is headed
  • The importance of getting involved in the conversation and especially of involving kids and school students in the conversation because it’s the future of their community 
  • How Australia is embracing the Smart concepts, including the gravitation to IoT projects as a key driver of the discussions
  • Why it’s not just about the data, it’s understanding the insights that come from the data, so the combination of the numbers, stories and expertise 
  • Projects Chris has been working on at Bendigo, including the Clever Weather IoT project which is a collaboration with La Trobe University
  • How transparent conversations help the City of Bendigo’s Garbage Truck IoT project get buy in from the garbage truck drivers, who are now big advocates for the project
  • The question to ask to spark great conversation: “if you could if you could understand one thing really well in your city, what would it be?”
  • How Bendigo has approached integration by both minimising risk as well as avoiding BAU
  • The advantages and opportunities for Bendigo being in the goldilocks zone for collaboration
  • The emerging trend of focusing on the boring, foundational pieces and Smart City standards in order to enable the tech trends.

Quotes:

“[The Standards are] really not a set of cookie cutter recommendations. It’s a set of principles and almost a checklist of what good looks like in your city. If you go through and actually address some of these points…things like having a collective City Vision and an agreed direction for your city to take. And that’s not that’s not a council just just doing its own thing. It’s agreed and accepted and aligned across your whole community.

“It’s not just all about the data, and the data is not going to solve everything. It’s the understanding the insights that comes from that data after you’ve analysed it.”

“I really think if we picked up those standards together, we would cut five or 10 years off this conversation. We’ve got all the points we need to really focus on in the in those standards, and then you can take them and contextualize them to your place in the world. And we would save ourselves a lot of time and a lot of conversations that perhaps are unnecessarily ones.”

“I really think if we picked up those standards together, we would cut five or 10 years off this conversation. We’ve got all the points we need to really focus on in the in those standards, and then you can take them and contextualize them to your place in the world. And we would save ourselves a lot of time and a lot of conversations that perhaps are unnecessarily ones.”

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The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.

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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