In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast I have a fantastic conversation with Teresa Harding, the Mayor of Ipswich City in QLD, Australia. Teresa tells us about her varied background in the Defence Force, small business and IT, and her dual passion for local communities and veterans affairs. We discuss what sparked her interest in Smart concepts and why it’s so important to have a balance of logic and creativity, vision and implementation in our Smart Communities. Teresa then tells us about the work Ipswich Council has done this year on setting up a Transparency and Integrity Hub to ensure trust is rebuilt with citizens and the local government is held accountable. Teresa tells us about how this Hub works, the feedback they’re getting on it and the benefits of adopting open data practices into local government. We also discuss how Ipswich integrates across disciplines, governments and industries and their plans for continued community engagement and a more participatory approach to policy planning. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of digital inclusion and improved local government customer service, plus the importance of diversity in our civic and government decision making process. As always we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Teresa’s varied background in the Defence Force, small business and IT
- Her dual passion for local communities and veterans affairs, and how technology is important for both
- What sparked Teresa’s interest in Smart concepts
- Why it’s so important to have a balance of logic and creativity, vision and implementation in our Smart Communities
- What a Smart Community is to Teresa and why she believes it’s important
- How Australia is embracing this Smart Community space?
- The Smart City Program of the City of Ipswich, including the Transparency and Integrity Hub
- How the Transparency and Integrity Hub works to ensure trust is rebuilt with citizens and the local government is held accountable.
- The feedback the council is getting on the Hub and the benefits of adopting open data practices into local government
- How Ipswich integrates across disciplines, governments and industries
- The plans Ipswich has for continued community engagement and a more participatory approach to policy planning
- The emerging trends of using technology for better customer service and communication between local government and citizens
- Rethinking transport, especially public transport, in regional areas to better serve the community
- Digital Inclusion, Digital Equity and why they matter
- The importance of diversity in our civic and government decision making
“I like logical things and I like creative things and Smart Communities, Smart Cities, that concept to me allows you to use your logic and your creative side in problem solving. But the logical stuff as in making sure it gets done, because you can all have a good idea. But you’ve actually got to implement it and get it done.”
“When I think of Smart Communities, I think how can we use data and technology to make life better, and how can we make our communities better by using data and technology?”
“A big part of that is making sure people have training and have the technical skills as well as the creative skills to problem solve. Then there’s the backbone, like NBN, so we can do it. I mean, can you imagine if we had COVID 10 years ago? People wouldn’t be able to work from home, they wouldn’t have had the bandwidth to do that.”
“When this new council came on board in April, we wanted to be really clear that we were a council free of any corruption or fraud. So we set up a Transparency and Integrity Hub… because this new council knows just how important open data is to building trust between governments and citizens. And at Ipswich, we are leading the way with the Transparency and Integrity Hub. I think we’ve set a gold standard. The Hub publishes detailed financial data on council expenditure over the last five years. And I really think this Hub is an important step on our journey for transparency and integrity.”
“It’s not mind-breaking technology, publishing a spreadsheet or publishing a map so you can click on what’s happening in your suburb, but it’s actually putting it out there so people can look at it so they can actually participate in how their rates are being spent, see how decisions are being made and have the opportunity to discuss it with us.”
“I think it’s also about driving culture in our organisation as well. When people know that that information is going to be published, it does drive a certain behaviour. I do hope that that will just really focus everyone from the elected representatives to council offices to making sure that we’re really responsible how we’re spending ratepayers money.”
“’It’s absolutely essential that elected representatives and governments at all levels let people know, let taxpayers know how their money is being spent. And we must outline how we are making those decisions. It has to be open, we also should be saying this is what we’re going to be doing… and when we deliver that it needs to be acknowledged. But by the same token, if governments aren’t delivering they need to be held to account.”
“Digital Inclusion is really important. It’s about educating people. So everyone has that opportunity to participate in the digital world.”
Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community
Connect with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.