Episode Archive

SCP E310 Building Accessible, Liveable and Sustainable Communities in Camden, with Gaya Gounder

Hi #smartcommunity friends! In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast I have a wonderful conversation with Gaya Gounder. Gaya is the Chief Information Officer at Camden City Council and has several years of experience leading data, technology, and innovation teams at multiple levels of government including state and local. In this episode Gaya begins by telling us about her background in the IT industry in both local and state government and her passion for implementing solutions that make an impact on the community. Gaya then tells us how she got into the Smart Communities space and what a Smart Community means to her. Gaya then takes us through some of the projects she has been working on, some use cases for the use of digital twins, and the Camden Council Smart Community journey. Gaya then discusses the Camden approach to integrating across different disciplines, the different skill sets she has seen coming through the council and the challenges that go with attracting those skill sets, as well as some of the challenges she has faced developing strategies for local government. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of more emphasis on the ethics, privacy and use of data for AI and machine learning. 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:

  • Gaya’s background in the IT industry in both local and state government 
  • Her passion for implementing solutions that make an impact on the community 
  • How Gaya got into the Smart Community space 
  • What a Smart Community means to Gaya 
  • Some of the projects Gaya has been working on 
  • Some uses cases for the use of digital twins 
  • The Camden  Smart Community journey 
  • Camden Councils approach to integrating across different disciplines 
  • The different skill sets Gaya is seeing come through the Council now and the challenges to attracting those skill sets 
  • Some of the biggest challenges Gaya has seen developing strategies for local government 
  • The emerging trends of more emphasis on the ethics, privacy and use of data for AI and machine learning


“As an enterprise architect, I’m always taking a continual improvement approach to ensuring our technology and data are meeting the needs of the organisation. And I’m passionate about implementing solutions that make an impact to the community and working in local government is completely rewarding for that matter.”

“When engaging with business stakeholders and trying to understand what we need to do and how we need to utilise technology and data, we came up with a wish list or action items. We have over 500 actions that we had to undertake, and that formed our roadmap essentially and out of which a number of projects that came about related to making things work better. And that’s how the Smart Cities workstream within the strategy evolved.”

“A Smart Community to me, is essentially an approach. [Camden] leverages new ways of thinking, technology and data as enablers. And it’s about making the places that we work, live and play more accessible, liveable, and sustainable for all. And having that inclusion piece is really important.”

“The [Camden] vision is great, but we’ve also got priorities and principles, and that’s going to guide us through how we develop and implement the Smart Community initiatives for local council. And the vision, priorities and principles are great, but it’s important that we’re not doing tech for tech sake, and we’re creating a Smart Community for Camden that meets the real needs of the community.”

“The age of citizens [in Camden] has changed, we’ve got more and more first home buyers, we have a younger population moving into the area, and the expectations of what they want from Council and the services we provide is also changing. So the need to accelerate what we are doing came about as a result of that population growth and the changing demography.” 

“It’s been a challenge to recruit full stop. So with the pandemic, we’ve had a big shortage in skilled workers here in Australia. And I think it’s not just councils, it’s everywhere. But for local government, specifically with everyone working from home for a long time now, most of us are returning back to work, [recruits] don’t don’t actually want to come to work, and be in the office.”

“In developing a strategy, it’s always important to understand your current state really well, and then to mark out where you want to be. So to understand your current state, you really need to dig deeper and find out what are some of the things that you’re doing really well in whatever it may be, if it’s smart, or cyber, or data.”

“One of the challenges [we face] is the business sometimes cannot articulate to say where they want to be, they know they want something, but just can’t get it out in words. And I think that that is a challenge and trying to put that in on paper or a document is the hardest thing for me. And again, working with yourself [Zoe], it has been really great in achieving those and overcoming those as well.”

“For citizens to say, “No, I don’t want you to collect this data”, [is important]. I don’t think they even can ask those questions or think about it these days. So I think that awareness is also important, as is advocating for our citizens to say, okay, that is your data that we’re collecting, so you have a say here and, having those transparent conversations, I think is important.”


Camden City Council Website 


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

Connect with Gaya 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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