Episode Archive

SCP E171 Data Governance and Digital Maturity in Smart Communities, with Jamie Leach

In this episode I had a fantastic chat with Jamie Leach, a Data Technologist and the the CEO and Founder of Open Data Australia. She has an extensive background in project management, finance, technology, and defence, as well as leading data and technology companies through capital-raising and global expansion. A reminder that like all our recent episodes this one was recorded before the global pandemic but I think it’s a fantastic and really relevant conversation all the same. 

In this episode, Jamie and I discuss her passion for the transformative potential of data if it is leveraged and harnessed in a positive way. We talk about what sparked her interest in data and Smart Communities, and how making good use of data can help future proof businesses and organisations going forwards. We cover so much, including the challenges and opportunities of using and analysing data well, particularly for governments, and the different skillsets that are needed. Jamie tells us why it’s so important that we are educated and empowered around data, especially those who don’t have data literacy already, and the importance of just taking the first steps in that direction. Jamie and I discuss how she sees Australia currently embracing the data governance space and some of the projects she’s working on. We finish our chat exploring the emerging trends of data visualisation and of AI cognitive search. As always we hope you enjoyed listening tot his episode as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Listen Here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Jamie’s background in project management, finance, technology, and defence, as well as leading data and technology companies through capital-raising and global expansion 
  • Why she is passionate about the transformative potential of data if it is leveraged and harnessed in a positive way 
  • What sparked Jamie’s interest  in data and what a Smart Community is to Jamie
  • The dangers of the low hanging Smart City fruit and the importance of the maturing of the Smart Community conversation
  • Making good use of data to future proof businesses and organisations going forward 
  • The challenges and opportunities for government to using, analysing and visualising data
  • The different skillsets needed related to data 
  • Why we should be empowering and educating people who don’t have the skillsets already
  • The biggest dangers in not reviewing and updating the data governance structure in organisations
  • The importance of cybersecurity, data governance and the digital maturity of an organisation
  • How Australia is currently embracing the data governance space 
  • Three ways boards of organisations large and small are now engaging with the topic of data
  • Projects Jamie is currently working on
  • The emerging trends of data visualisation and of AI cognitive search 


“I worry [Cities are] missing the underlying part [about Smart]. It’s this connectivity, it’s the infrastructure, the baseline that will enable all initiatives and all pieces of technology to be layered on top if and when they they need to be going forward. And especially when we’ve got the realities… [of] limited funds to divert into the initiative, if you’re spending them all on these low hanging fruits, you’re really not setting yourself up for that longer term future success of making that jump from a standard community to a Smart Community.”

“We look to government as almost being that pillar of the correct way or the best way of doing things. We certainly hope that’s the way it is. But some of these governments, be it locals state or federal departments, they are so large, and they have so many responsibilities that it would be naive to think that they are utilising the data to the best methods.”

“It’s exciting to just see that competence shift in the course of a single day of just sitting in front of a computer lab, where it really did remind me that …individuals that can have a career potential for 30-40 years, how fast or how much has the world changed in that time? And a lot of time, formal education happens at the start and then you’re expected to just keep abreast of changes as technology is introduced, and it continues to change on an annual basis. It’s no wonder that sometimes people don’t feel this skill set has kept up with the role that they’re now sitting in. And they’re scared in a lot of cases to put their hand up and say, ‘I’m not as confident as I could be. I don’t want to seem like I can’t do my job. I’d love to find some way that I can actually get some help.’ And that help does exist.”

“The threat [of data being held for ransom] is real. The threat affects everybody. Data governance and the ability to look at the digital maturity of an organisation is paramount to the first step in trying to protect that really, really important asset.”

“I am starting to see data on a lot of board discussions now where if you go back even two to three years, I don’t believe it was there. Two, three years ago, you were having conversations about cloud, and the cyber security [conversation] was just starting to come on board. Now it feels like the momentum around the potential for data is starting to be recognised. There seems to be a sticking point when some people aren’t sure, where do I start?”

“I see massive potential [in data visualisation]. If you can see the data, if you feel like you can touch it, if you can truly start to understand the story that it’s telling, there is massive potential and benefit to that. But—and there’s a major ‘but’ that I’m seeing—if people don’t truly understand it, if they haven’t cleansed it, if they haven’t raised the quality of it or done the hard work at that governance stage, it’s difficult to rely on the story [of that data].”


Connect with Jamie via LinkedIn or on Twitter @opendataaus or the website Opendataaustralia.org  

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.


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