Episode Archive

SCP E307 Community as the Catalyst in Southern Grampians, with Russell Bennett

Hi #smartcommunity friends! In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast I have a wonderful conversation with Russell Bennett. Russell has been the Manager of Business Systems at Southern Grampians Shire Council since April 2015. Prior to his current role he has 13+ years’ experience working as IT Project Manager and Business Analyst across a number of industries both in the private and public sector. In this episode Russell tells us about his background in business, IT and Project Management, what sparked his interest in the Smart Communities space, and what has driven the Southern Grampians Shire’s Smart Community approach. Russell then talks about the Digital Innovation and Smart Agriculture (DISA) festival the council has started to help educate the community, before he takes us through some use cases for the use of LoRaWAN and IoT in Southern Grampians. We then discuss the importance of embedding data into our decision making and educating the community about the use of data, as well as the importance of embedding the Smart Community approach across our organisations, and Russell tells us about his favourite project he has been working on. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of leveraging data to improve emergency services decision making. 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:

  • Russell’s background in business, IT and Project Management
  • What sparked his interest in the Smart Communities space
  • What has driven the Southern Grampians Shire’s Smart Community approach
  • The Digital Innovation and Smart Agriculture (DISA) festival the council have started to help educate the community
  • Some use cases for the use of LoRaWAN and IoT in Southern Grampians 
  • The importance of embedding data into our decision making and educating the community about the use of data 
  • The importance of moving beyond the pilot stage and embedding Smart Communities in our organisations
  • Russell’s favourite project he has been working on
  • The emerging trends of leveraging data to improve emergency services decision making 

Quotes: 

“I prefer [the term] Smart Communities being a rural area that we’re in. So I first got interested in that probably around the 2016/2017 time going to a few conferences in Melbourne about technology in government and local government and seeing the possibilities that Smart Communities and all these sensors and stuff could do. And I was really interested to see how it could apply that to a rural community.”

“[Southern Grampians Shires’] approach [to Smart Communities] is really community focused and how can our community leverage digital to improve and get the efficiencies.”

“We had $300,000 to sort of implement our strategy and roadmap. And part of that we invested in a number of different things. IoT LoRaWAN network was probably the big kicke that we did, connectivity was always a struggle in our area. So we invested in LoRaWAN, but also invested in things like public Wi-Fi. Again, it’s not groundbreaking stuff, but for a community that doesn’t necessarily have easy access to connectivity, it was amazing to see the take up of our public Wi-Fi network.”

“We took the leap of faith and created our own conference, our own event, Digital Innovation and Smart Agriculture event, which was about education, test and trial. We partnered with farms and got technology on the farms and then took farmers out there to talk to the other farmers that are playing with this technology, hear it from their experience, rather than a sales experience.”

“We’ve done a number of cool things, like pilots and all that sort of stuff. But is it self-sustaining? Are we getting value out of it? So now rather than just running out and trialling all this stuff, it’s now around, what’s the problem, and what outcome do we want. And how can technology help.”

“I look at councils that are starting to play in this space and look at our learnings and [think] it’s not just a matter of throwing money at it anymore, and you can say you’re a Smart Community or a Smart City now, because you’ve got some sensors.” 

Links: 

DISA Festival 

Southern Grampians Shire Council Website 

Connect:

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

Connect with Russell via LinkedIn or via email: Rbennett@sthgrampians.Vic.gov.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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