Episode Archive

SCP E288 A Coffs Harbour Approach to Meeting Community Needs, with Fiona Barden 

Hi #smartcommunity friends! In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast I have a delightful chat with Fiona Barden. Fiona works with Coffs Harbour City Council, leading the Industry and Destination Development section, which looks after the economic development of the region and fosters tourism attraction and visitation. In this episode, Fiona begins by telling us about her interesting and varied background, her passion for business and in particular looking at economic viability for regions, and discusses some of Coffs Harbour’s current top sectors and industries. Fiona then tells us what a Smart Community means to her, a few of the changes she has seen in her local community in the recent years, and then discusses a few of the projects she has been working on with the council. Fiona then talks about the councils approach to the Covid-19 pandemic and how this helped the community, as well as the councils Economic Development Strategy and their approach to digital economy. We finish our chat discussing several emerging trends including; long term recovery and resilience after natural disaster events, meaningful sustainable development, and lastly how data is used and how it is useful for people in our communities. 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:

  • Fiona’s interesting and varied background and in particular working in and running her own business  
  • Her passion for business and in particular looking at economic viability for regions 
  • Some of the top sectors and industries in Coffs Harbour 
  • What a Smart Community means to Fiona 
  • Some of the changes Fiona has seen in her local community over the past few years 
  • A few of the projects Fiona has been working on with Coffs Harbour City Council 
  • How the councils approach helped the community during the Covid-19 Pandemic 
  • The councils Economic Develop Strategy and their approach to digital economy 
  • The emerging trends of long term recovery and resilience after natural disaster events, meaningful sustainable development, and how data is used and how it is useful for people in our communities

Quotes: 

“Through that process of running a business for 12 years, I did a fair bit of study, and started to really learn, about some of the insecurities that lots of business owners have, and realised that I probably had good potential to work with business owners to try and work through some of those issues so that they could create success for themselves.”

“A Smart Community is one that is able to satisfy the needs of the community through what they’re able to provide. And we need to look at how technology is part of that. But with sustainability in mind, how do we do that to provide for the needs now. And how do we do that in a way that doesn’t impact people [when providing] for their needs in the future.”

“A Smart Community is one that’s got it all together, that’s able to know what those things are, and is working towards doing it.”

“[Coffs Harbour Council] also looks at tourism as one of our key industries, as Coffs is a highly visited destination. So over the last two years, we’ve gone through a process of being the first New South Wales destination to be eco accredited. So really building on our nature based tourism strategy to look at that delivery of nature based experiences in a sustainable manner. And that visitors both national and international, now that they started coming again, really value that care for the environment that they’re in as part of that experience.”

“We would love it all to be digital. But understanding the different needs of our visitors and things means that we have to work out how we do that in a way that satisfies.”

“I think people get scared by the use of data, but it’s actually to inform so that better decisions can be made. So that is a trend that we need to talk about, what the data is used for, and how it’s useful for people within our community.”

“Some of the feedback we’re hearing as we’re doing sessions around gathering information for the new economic development strategy, is that communication and trust building is a really, really important feature that people are looking for. They’re trying to understand what we do in local government or other levels of government too. And people are interested to understand what that is.”

Links: 

Coffs Harbour City Council 

Economic Development Strategy 

6 Degrees 

Connect:

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

Connect with Fiona via email: fiona.barden@chcc.nsw.gov.au or via 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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