Episode Archive

SCP E199 Standards, Stakeholder Engagement and Collaboration in Smart Communities, with Vi Le

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast I have a fantastic conversation with Vi Le, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the ICT and Agriculture Sector, with Standards Australia. Vi tells us about her background in ICT and telecommunications for both government and corporate, and what sparked her interest in the Smart Community space. We discuss why Smart Communities are so important and how Vi sees Australia embracing Smart concepts currently. Vi and I explore the challenges and opportunities of multidisciplinary conversations and the importance of having agreed upon operating models when having many stakeholders with different contexts and different ideologies at the same table. Vi then tells us about the work she does at Standards Australia and the Smart City Standards Roadmap for Australia they have developed. We then talk about why it’s so valuable to have all three levels of government—national, state and local—in the implementation conversation so we can integrate better, move out of silos and away from us and them thinking towards genuine collaboration towards a shared vision. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of data, privacy and the questions we should be asking about the way data is used, as well as some of Vi’s favourite Smart City resources.  As always we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Vi’s background in government, corporate, ICT and telecommunications and passion for connecting people 
  • What sparked Vi’s interest in the Smart Community space
  • What a Smart Community is to Vi and why the concept is so important 
  • The challenges and opportunities of the multidisciplinary approach
  • How Vi sees Australia embracing the Smart Concepts currently
  • The gap between agreeing on the need for implementation and knowing how to actually implement or harness the opportunity
  • The importance of having agreed upon operating models when having many stakeholders with different contexts and different ideologies at the same table
  • About the work Vi does with Standards Australia, including the Smart City Standards Roadmap for Australia
  • How we can better integrate across disciplines in this space and the reference group Standards Australia established to do this
  • Why it’s valuable to have all three levels of government—national, state and local—in the implementation conversation 
  • Moving out of silos and away from ‘us and them’ thinking to collaborative focus on shared vision
  • The emerging trends of data, privacy and the questions we should be asking about the way data is used
  • Vi’s favourite Smart Community resources 


“We have a lot of talents in Australia. But the conversation internationally, some of our experts or stakeholders have been part of that conversation, but not collectively for Australia. So I wanted to really bring an Australian presence to those international conversations.”

“Personally, I find when I collaborate with someone, the product is a lot better than if I was doing it on my own. And so I have the same view in principle when it comes to a Smart Community that if we collectively bring all our expertise together, the product that we produce is a lot more efficient and effective than if we were doing in minor groups or silos.”

“In terms of embracing [Smart concepts] in Australia, there’s different level of maturity in terms of our local community, but I know collectively, when I talk to all our stakeholders, they understand there is more need for it now. And I think, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s making people realise that more and more you need to rely on technology to stay connected…It’s becoming quite evident to everyone now that we need to really start accelerating our progress. Everyone agrees to the need for it, but whether they understand how to implement it, or can harness that sort of opportunity is probably the other question.

“We are an independent body. Some people think that we are government, we’re not, we’re actually independent, though we do work closely with all levels of government. So our role really is to make sure that we bring all these stakeholders across the board to look at areas particularly in emerging technology, or areas that require a common sort of language or a common sort of understanding. Because once we create a standard, it’s about helping the community to feel confident in that product or that service. And to ensure that we provide the community with a certain level of expectations, whether it’s around safety or the way they use a product, that is a repeatable service or repeatable product that they can expect it to achieve.”

“We work with those stakeholders to try and work out how we get ourselves on this Smart City journey, to ensure that we develop a vision or some way to assist the community, embed their Smart City visions and strategies…[and] enable a Smart Community where you’ve got different forms of data structures, and interoperability issues as well.”

“When you have all these technology generating data, how do you make sure that the data that’s being harnessed and being shared, particularly those open data, how do you make sure those privacy concerns are addressed? So the key thing for us is then trying to work out what sort of standard needs to be considered when you’re looking to share data.”

“We found that having all three levels of government represented on our committee was valuable. It was genuinely an eye opener for our Federal representative to listen to the challenges of the local government representatives…From Local Government’s point of view, they really are at the frontline of implementing a lot of these initiatives for the community. And at the Federal level, even though they may have the visions, and they may support through funding, they may not necessarily understand some of the front face challenges that the Local Government have.”

“With all this technology that we have, we’re probably still not talking enough about the data side of things. What are the implications when we start to connect all these data sets?”

“It’s one thing to say [that] if you’ve got the technology, you’ve got all these great wonderful things it can do. But at the back of my mind is [the fact that there’s] data being harnessed by the technology, and how we step back as a community to understand how we use that data? And even when we start to combine it and maybe apply artificial intelligence too, what are the unintended consequences?”


Smart Cities Standards reference group

Australian Government Building Up and Moving Out report

Standards Australia Standards Roadmap

Standards Australia Performance Matrix on Smart Cities 

NSW Government Smart Places Strategy 


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

Connect with Vi on LinkedIn or vi.le@standards.org.au 

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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