SCP E118: Smart Mobility Lessons from Mexico City, with Pablo Lazo

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a great conversation on location in Mexico City with architect and city planner Pablo Lazo. I recorded this while I was away on my Churchill Fellowship visit to Mexico in March and I really enjoyed this conversation.

If you want to hear my reflections on my visit to Mexico City, as well as the other places I visited while I was away, you should subscribe to my exclusive podcast about my Churchill Fellowship. It’s exclusively for supporters on Pozible, so head to Pozible.com today, search for My Smart Community, and hit support. There’s several episodes there already for you to get stuck into and hear about the various people, places and platforms I investigated as part of her Churchill Fellowship.

In this episode, Pablo and I discuss his passion for cities and his interest in Smart Mobility. We really focus in on Mexico City and the opportunities and challenges the city is facing in terms of transport, urban sprawl, population and employment opportunities. We talk about the relationship between place, mobility and public health and how we can use data to better understand this relationship and provide better solutions for our communities.

Pablo and I also discuss Smart Streets, and how we need to be proactive about reducing conflict between different users on our roads, plus the emerging trends of both autonomous vehicles and walkability. As always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Pablo’s background in architecture and planning, and his passion for cities
  • What sparked Pablo’s interest in Smart Cities and Communities
  • How Mexico City is embracing Smart Concepts
  • The opportunities and challenges facing Mexico City in terms of transport, urban sprawl, population and employment opportunities
  • The pros and cons of the public transport options available right now in Mexico City
  • Pablo’s perspective on making micro-mobility work within a broader mobility context
  • The relationship between place, mobility, public health
  • Smart Streets, and the importance of reducing conflict between different users on our roads
  • How data can help governments understand how people move and make more places organically walkable
  • The importance of having some baseline information or baseline effective data
  • The emerging trends of autonomous vehicles and walkability in cities

Quotes:

“I have always been passionate about cities and the built environment, from different angles [like] smaller scale issues such as architecture, but also large scale issues related to urbanism in general, and aspects that are now common ground for urbanism such as mobility, transportation, ecology, sustainability and urban resilience.”

“On one hand, [Mexico City] needs to move around people, but on the other hand the problem lies exactly on that aspect of the system.”

“If the place has options for better urban mobility or different alternatives to move around, you also address issues such as public health or economic value of that particular area of the city. So people in the local government have started to realise they are not only ticking the box in terms of public transportation, but they are addressing things that are equally important to the population such as… aspects that are related to public health.”

“Obviously the problem with congestion in Mexico City has a direct implication on sustainability because of the air pollution and noise pollution. The city has been working during the last 10 years on addressing how to reduce emissions that are coming from congestion.”

Connect:

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E117 Nurturing Smart Regional Hubs, with Sofie Pringle

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a brilliant conversation with Sofie Pringle, a designer with a passion for creating cities and urban places that increase people’s happiness and mental well-being. She is currently completing a doctorate in urban planning and design at Queensland University of Technology, focusing on the positive and negative effects that design and planning features have on user happiness and well-being. In this episode Sofie tells us about her PhD and what sparked her interest in this space, as well as why she believes there is a gap in the Smart Community conversation around the concept of happiness in the city. We also discuss sustainable urbanisation and the compact city fallacy, and why nurturing our Smart Regional Hubs is so crucial. We finish the chat discussing the emerging trend of the neuroscience research into the impact urban environments have on human brains, and how we’re just not talking about that enough. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Sofie’s background in design and her passion for making cities more mentally healthy
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart Community space
  • What a Smart Community is to Sofie and why it’s so important
  • The gap in the Smart City conversation around the happiness of the city
  • Projects Sofie is currently working on, including her PhD studying the impact of urban environments on human happiness
  • How Sofie perceives Australia currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The importance of nurturing Smart Regional hubs
  • The Compact City Fallacy and sustainable urbanisation
  • Why we should think about technology projects as being community projects
  • The power of a culture of trust and collaboration in organisations
  • The opportunities and challenges of integrating across disciplines, industries, governments and academia
  • Disconnecting government initiatives and policies from 4-year political terms and an individual candidate’s political career
  • The emerging trend of the neuroscience research into the impact urban environments have on human brains

 

Quotes:

“It takes a whole team, and sometimes a whole community, a whole neighbourhood and even a whole country to move society forward in leaps and bounds. It’s not going to be just one particular person, it’s going to be an iterative and a community and collaborative approach that’s really going to start to change what we see in the future.”

“The concept of liveability exists and wellbeing is a well-known term, but I think the understanding of people’s wellbeing in relation to particular urban environment designs and planning features, is a bit of a gap in understanding at the moment.”

“It could be a great idea to have a … board that’s off to the left of the government so that the really important policies and issues that Australia faces are not just governed by an [individual party’s] political term.”

“Where you choose to live will have an impact and an effect on your mental health. Some are more susceptible to it than others of course, but having a general public education about that is important because [we need to understand and unpack people’s motivation to move to the city.]”

 

Connect:

Connect with Sofie via LinkedIn or Twitter @sofie_pringle

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP 116 Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities? (Part 1)

Zoe is back behind the mic after her Churchill Fellowship world tour so you’ll start hearing her voice again at the start of the regular podcast episodes. In this episode we’re doing things a little differently. Throughout this year, Zoe has asked each guests an extra question which was edited out of the regular interview: “Where to next for Smart Cities and Communities?” In this episode you are going to hear an amalgamation of a few of the answers from this year’s guests.

The loose theme of this episode is around the need for decision making and action on climate change: you’ll hear from Don McLean from episode 102, Mark Thomas from episode 111, Lisa McLean from episode 105, Ricardo Van Leunen from episode104 And finally Chunga Cha from episode 110.

All the guests agree that we need some urgent action and we need to think not just about what’s happening now, but more about the long term. We need to make decisions now that may not benefit people now, but will be beneficial in the long term. As always, we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!

Listen here:

 

Previous guests featured in this episode: 

Connect:

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

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

SCP 115 Citizenship, Democracy and Data in the Smart Community (Part 2), with Cornelia Levy-Bencheton and Mike Barlow

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, we hear part 2 of Zoe’s interview with Cornelia Levy-Bencheton and Mike Barlow. In Part 2, which is the previous episode, Zoe and Mike and Cornelia discussed the power of Smart Communities to engage citizens which can lead to a more effective and empowered democracy. They also shared how they see the US embracing the Smart City space and gave some great examples of some Smart concepts being implemented there. If you haven’t yet listened to Part 1 of this interview, go and do that before listening to this episode.

In Part 2, Cornelia and Mike tell us  about their book, “Smart Cities, Smart Futures: Showcasing Tomorrow.”  And about some of the projects that they’re working on right now. They cover the future of work and the opportunities and challenges that come from the range of generations in the work force right now. Zoe, Mike and Cornelia also discuss blockchain and the concept of data as labour, and why Smart Cities and Smart Communities need to be part of Smart Regions in order for them to be good for Smart People that live there.

So we pick up Part 2 of this conversation where the previous episode left off, talking about the need for transparency and citizen engagement in Smart Cities to avoid backlash from the community. 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:

  • Mike and Cornelia’s book “Smart Cities, Smart Futures: Showcasing Tomorrow”
  • The future of work and how it’s inherently interlinked with demographics in our cities
  • The challenges and opportunities that come from having a multi-generational workforce
  • Blockchain, e-government and the concept of data as labour
  • What Smart Cities and Smart Communities are good for
  • Why we need to get our Smart Cities and Smart Communities right, for the sake of all people on the planet

 

Quotes:

“It’s important to remember that the loudest voice is not always the Smartest voice, so we have to be careful not to be influenced just by somebody who makes a lot of noise, but somebody who makes the most sense.” ~ Cornelia

“I really believe very strongly that mobility means self-determination. If people are mobile and have access to mobility, they can exercise their self-determination. They can go where they want, they can do what they want.” ~ Cornelia

“People have been leaving the farm for 6000 years [to move to cities]…The world of tomorrow will be a world of cities, But will the be Smart Cities? That’s up to us, we the people. So let’s work together, and let’s make the planet a better place.” ~ Mike

“I can’t remember having a workforce with 4 different generations in it in any other point in my life…this idea of blending multiple generations all with their own views of the universe, into a single workforce, and having that workforce work together and collaborate and produce happy economic results, that’s a real challenge that we’re only beginning to grapple with now.” ~ Mike

Connect:

Connect with Cornelia on LinkedIn or on Twitter @bencheton

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mike7pilot

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E114 Citizenship, Democracy and Data in the Smart Community (Part 1), with Cornelia Levy-Bencheton and Mike Barlow

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe has a fascinating and really great conversation with Cornelia Levy-Bencheton and Mike Barlow, the authors of the book “Smart Cities, Smart Futures: Showcasing Tomorrow.” Cornelia and Mike tell us about their backgrounds and how they became so passionate about the Smart City and Smart Community space. They share with us their desire to educate and inspire people about these concepts so that we can collectively be more engaged citizens, have a more effective and empowered democracy, and solve problems both big and small in our communities, cities, countries and the world.
Cornelia and Mike share examples of Smart Concepts being used in real places, why being engaged citizens is so important, and what they see as the six facets of a Smart City. This was a longer interview that usual, so we’ve split the conversation into two parts. You will hear Part 1 today and stay tuned for part 2. 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:

  • The respective backgrounds of Cornelia and Mike and their passion for the Smart City concepts
  • What a Smart City is to them, and why they feel it’s so important
  • The power of citizen engagement
  • How Cornelia and Mike feel the US in embracing Smart concepts
  • Some examples of Smart Concepts in action
  • The 6 facets of a Smart City
  • The importance of taking control of our data
  • Why Transportation and Mobility is the thing that touches all of us

Quotes:

“Instead of writing about technology infrastructure, we write about that, but we also wrote about social infrastructure…What we found was to make a Smart City work, you need Smart Government, Smart Politics and Smart Citizens – not necessarily in that order.” ~ Mike

“Smart Cities empowers people and through participating in civic actions they find their Citizen voice. A Smart City and Community includes people and it helps people become better citizens. It helps people become involved, engaged and active in their own community and community governments. It’s problem solving but he residents and the citizens who will be impacted by the creative solution of these problems.” ~ Cornelia

“An inclusive and diverse community, in fact and ecosystem, that includes multiple different players, agencies, entities, governments, private enterprises, citizenry of all levels and types all collaborating to make a better world. The idea is that it enables interactions between citizens and their governments with the purpose of improving the world, improving urban life.” ~ Cornelia

“Being a good citizen is really important. It’s not something trivial. It’s something that’s good for your neighbourhood, your town, your city, your state, your region, your country and it’s good for the world. Everybody needs to participate and have their voice in the mix. To us we see it as the beginnings of a new form of social democracy that works and where people are engaged and involved and speak up.” ~ Mike

“All those areas [economy, government, environment, living, people, mobility] are interconnected. They all use information and communication technologies, they all rely on sensors, they all rely on open source platforms, on high volume data collection and analytics. And when they all work together, it’s what’s called a system of systems.” ~ Cornelia


Links:

“Smart Cities, Smart Futures: Showcasing Tomorrow” by Mike and Cornelia

“The death and life of great American cities” by Jane Jacobs

Connect:

Connect with Cornelia on LinkedIn or on Twitter @bencheton

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mike7pilot

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E113 The power of local champions in Smart Regions, with Heath Raftery

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, Zoe speaks with Heath Raftery, Head of Technology at boutique electronic product consultancy, Newie Ventures. Heath tells us about his background in computing and electrical engineering, and why the strengths and weaknesses of engineers led him to study economics, communication and human behaviour. He explains how he became interested in Smart concepts thanks to initiatives of the City of Newcastle, and how he sees Australia embracing the Smart Community space. Heath shares some of the projects he’s currently working on, including the Smart Play initiative, which involves playful ways to capture, use and communicate Smart City data. Zoe and Heath then cover why integration really needs organisations being supportive of individuals being collaborative, and the emerging trend of making grass roots projects sustainable through financial as well as community support. A quick warning, the audio quality of this episode does diminish in the last few minutes of the interview, but it’s very listenable and well worth it too, as it’s such a great conversation about the importance of local champions in Smart Regions. 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:

  • Heath’s background in computing and electrical engineering
  • Why strengths and weaknesses of engineers led Heath to study economics, communication and human behaviour
  • What the City of Newcastle did that sparked Heath’s interest in Smart City concepts
  • How the Smart City concept has evolved from soulless efficiency metrics to human-centred social movements
  • How Heath sees Australia embracing the Smart City and Community space
  • Projects Heath is currently working on
  • Playful ways to capture, use and communicate Smart City Data
  • Why the key to integration is in supporting individuals – not just organisations – to be collaborative
  • The power and importance of local champions
  • The emerging trend of making grass roots projects sustainable through financial as well as community support

Quotes:

“[I noticed that engineers] were so consumed with being the smartest people in the room but their poor ability to relate, communicate and empathise meant that really no-one cared…I had this epiphany: all this technical talent in the world was going to be wasted if you couldn’t communicate it, if you couldn’t make people care.”

“I’m really encouraged because I think the Smart City concept has evolved over the last couple of years in the right way. Originally the narrative was really about efficiency…[but] the soulless efficiency metrics do not make a social movement. So people started to look at what has actually resonated, and that’s this concept of liveability—all those aspects of city life that make people say ‘I like living here, this is my city.’”

“[A Smart City to me] is reflective, it’s responsive and it’s delightful to humans. It’s about leveraging technology to make the city more human-centred and make it more liveable.”

“You need to celebrate those people that are willing to [collaborate]. They’ll only do it for so long if they’re not getting the support of their organisation. Even if their entire organisation can’t be collaborative and involved in every single meeting that goes on in town, at least they can support individuals being involved in these sorts of things.”

“I think one of the emerging trends is that the communities are unequally aided by champions, by people that put their neck on the line and push and push to represent the people that they’re representing. I’d love to see some more conversation about how we equip and recognise those people and the contributions they’re making.

“If you want to talk about bang for buck, look at these people who are running on the smell of an oily rag and making things happen in their local community. People think that will go on forever, but it won’t unless there’s a bit of support…These sorts of efforts need to be sustainable and they’ll only run on people’s good will for so long. A little bit of money can go a long way.”

“You’ve got to recognise those grass roots approaches because that’s what makes a community.”

Links:

Newie Ventures


Smart Community Podcast Episode 81 with Sarah Wray from Smart Cities World

Smart Play, including the Baby Bulb project

One of the projects from RAPID

Connect:

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

Connect with Heath via LinkedIn

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP 112 Putting data in the hands of people, with Flora Salim

In this episode, Zoe has a fantastic chat to Dr. Flora Salim, Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University. She obtained her PhD in Computer Science from Monash University. Her research areas are mobile and pervasive computing, urban computing, activity and behaviour recognition, and applied data mining and machine learning for ambient intelligence. Flora shares with us how she sees Australia embracing Smart Community concepts, as well as some of the projects she’s working on right now, including a foot traffic prediction app in Melbourne and a tool to help residents and tourists plan their BBQs in public parks. Zoe and Flora discuss change management and better integrating across disciplines, governments and industries. They finish their conversation discussing the emerging trend of the good things happening because of AI, the need for choice and control when it comes to our data, and the concept of algorithmic governance. 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:

– Flora’s background in computer science and her passion for understanding human behaviour

– What sparked her interest in the Smart City space

– What a Smart Community means to her and why she believes it’s important

– How Flora sees Australia embracing Smart Community concepts

– The projects Flora is working on right now, including a foot traffic prediction app in Melbourne and a tool to help residents and tourists plan their BBQs in public parks

– Change management and better integration across disciplines, governments and industries

– The emerging trend of all the good things happening because of AI

– Algorithmic governance and the need for choice and control when it comes to our data

Quotes:

“My passion is really about understanding the patterns of human behaviours, activities and movements in order to understand how we can improve the efficiency of operations as well as the quality of life.”

“I think the main difference here is with a Smart Community, you have the humans in the loop. When you think about Smart Cities, you’re thinking about [technology]…it’s all to do with efficiency. But where are the human users, where are the citizens in that?”

“It’s to do with behaviour. We’re dealing with people who are used to doing things a certain way. It’s not going to be easy when you want to apply this kind of change on a community level.”

“A lot of people are talking about AI taking away their jobs. People are afraid of AI, but there are also emerging trends on AI for good, and people, the media are not talking about these enough.”

“For me to trust you, I need to know you, I need to build this relationship with you. You need to explain things to me. And the same thing [with AI]. For me to trust a certain algorithm, the algorithm needs to be more open and transparent and to explain what’s going on.”

Connect: 

Connect with Flora via LinkedIn and on Twitter @florsalim

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.