Episode Archive

SCP E183 Smart Local Government and Engaged Communities, with Nathaniel Bavinton

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a brilliant chat with Dr. Nathaniel Bavinton, the Innovation and Futures Manager at the City of Newcastle in NSW. Nathaniel and I discuss his background as an urban sociologist and social researcher and how his interest in how cities impact cultures and societies has led to his work as a city strategist and sparked his interest in the Smart Community space. Nathaniel tells us about Newcastle, including the revitalisation that is happening there, and how the community came up with their own 3-part definition for what a Smart City means to them. We discuss how Nathaniel sees Australia embracing Smart concepts, and the opportunities, outcomes and obstacles of knowledge sharing and collaborating with neighbouring cities and local governments. We talk about the way the City of Newcastle has responded to COVID, and how the digital transformation and behavioural changes that were already underway in the local government really enabled those responses. Nathaniel then tells us about Lean In Newy, the city app that is helping not only engage and support the community, but also providing economic stimulus to local businesses too. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of planning for future city needs with shared digital architecture and going beyond open data to open algorithms and open analytics. 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:

  • Nathaniel’s background as an urban sociologist and social researcher
  • How his interest in how cities impact cultures and societies has led to his work as a City Strategist 
  • What sparked his interest in Smart Communities
  • About Newcastle’s revitalisation projects 
  • The 3-part definition of Smart City that Newcastle’s community co-created
  • How Nathaniel sees Australia embracing Smart Concepts
  • The opportunities, outcomes and obstacles of knowledge sharing and collaborating with neighbouring cities and local governments
  • The way the City of Newcastle has responded to COVID
  • How the digital transformation and behavioural changes that were already underway in local government enabled those responses 
  • Lean in Newy, the city app that is helping not only engage and support the community, but also providing economic stimulus to local businesses too
  • The emerging trends of planning for future city needs with shared digital architecture
  • Going beyond open data to open algorithms and open analytics

Quotes:

“I’m a sociologist. So I’ve always been really interested in how communities and societies are organised. And I come at that from a perspective of how can the structure of cities produce spaces in which communities or cultures can emerge?”

“Newcastle is Australia’s seventh largest city….I guess the city is commonly known for its background in heavy industry, and that’s really given us this great legacy of engineering and manufacturing capability that are really well suited to the growth areas of the 21st century.”

“We have a working definition that has three parts. [Firstly] it’s a city that puts people first. It’s not tech for tech’s sake, you need to be delivering some kind outcomes for the community. Secondly, it’s a city that is able to take advantage of Smart Infrastructure. And thirdly, it’s a city that prioritises and invests in innovation and creativity.”

“I really think that the debate is more valuable than the definition, that space for conversation around what does data mean? What does tech mean? You know, how is it changing our lives? That’s really the important ongoing discussion.”

“Because of the revitalisation push [in Newcastle], we literally have a once-in-a-century opportunity where the whole CBD is being torn up and re-layed. That is an extremely rare event in a city, and so really, that’s part of the explanation about why Smart City, why now? In Newcastle we grabbed that opportunity and we’re able to build into the new fabric of our public infrastructure foundations.”

“We don’t want to make the same mistake as someone else has made. That’s boring and time consuming. What that requires, though, is cities that are willing to open up and share the kind of behind-the-scenes, warts-and-all reality of what’s going on… the true story, not the promotional image.”

“When we build digital platforms, we design them in a way that they can serve the purpose of lowering the barrier to entry for future applications in cost or time or complexity, so that as many people as possible can build on it into the future. So that’s how we’ve built our internal Smart City digital platform….[with] shared digital architecture.”

Links:

Lean in Newy app https://www.leaninnewy.com.au 

Green Be http://greenbe.com 

SCP E140 David Catalovski https://mysmart.community/2019/11/11/scp-e140/ 

Smart Cities Council https://smartcitiescouncil.com 

Australian Living Labs Innovation Network https://www.australianlivinglabs.com.au 

ASCA https://www.australiansmartcommunities.org.au 

Connect: 

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

Connect with Nathaniel on LinkedIn

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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