SCP E124 Data-Sharing and Digital Twins in Smart Communities, with Sean Audain

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a great chat with Sean Audain, the City Innovation Lead at Wellington City Council in New Zealand. Sean and I discuss the way the public service role of government shapes how decisions are made, and that this comes with both opportunities and challenges for the government that can differ significantly from the responsibilities and operations of private companies. Sean then tells us how he sees New Zealand embracing Smart concepts, and a bit about the digital twin projects that he is working on in Wellington. We talk about the benefits of using digital twin technology and how it’s being used to build a new call centre and a new library. We finish our conversation discussing the need for indigenous voices in the Smart Cities discourse and the ways different worldviews shape our Smart Communities. 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:

  • Sean’s background in Urban Planning and his love for public service
  • How commuting on trains sparked Sean’s interest in Smart Cities
  • Why cities should strive for an informed democracy not just data-driven decision making
  • The opportunities and challenges of cities lasting longer than companies and having power over their citizens
  • Why Sean believes Smart Cities and Communities are important
  • A Wellington example called BlindsSquare, which provides city commentary for the visually impaired
  • How Sean sees New Zealand embracing Smart concepts
  • Wellington’s Digital Twin projects that Sean is working on
  • How digital twins work and the benefits of using this technology
  • Using data to better integrate across disciplines and industries
  • The positive results Wellington has seen from making data available to the public
  • The emerging trend of changing career development patters due to AI
  • The need for indigenous voices in our Smart Cities discourse
  • The role of government in market shaping

Quotes:

“I often think we really focus on the smart and forget about the city. It’s not about what tech can do for the city. In many ways it’s about what the city can do for tech.”

“People forget cities have markets, markets don’t have cities. And there are a whole bunch of people in a city that are performing functions that actually have very little to do with the economic life in the city.”

“When we start really thinking about cities in a technological term, there’s sort of a risk we will mechanize them. We’re not after a data driven decision making process, what we’re after is an informed democracy. They sound very similar, but they’re quite different in the way they work.”

“How do we also account for the fact we can do things to people? One of the big things that separates government from private enterprise is ultimately a government has a degree of power over its citizens, and there’s a certain involuntary factor to it. And that means that you’re operating in a way that’s got a duty of care, you’ve got a responsibility.”

by putting commissioners into a three dimensional environment, with a new building proposal, we can shorten the amount of time they need to consider it by that half, simply because we’re removing the obstruction. It’s a lot easier if you don’t have to create a building plan or shadow diagram. So we know that we can save some money, just not so short, but how much

“We were able to make the data open and make it available to our community so they can build stuff for themselves, which really does change the engagement dynamic. Instead of asking their opinion on things, they show us what we should do, which is a lot more productive.”

“The jobs which tend to be automated are either the very dirty or the very boring. And the way we train a lot of junior professionals, planners, accountants, is by getting them to do boring, repetitious tasks, which are now being automated. And so you’re seeing a change in the career patterns in the city.”

“And often a worldview will inform what data you collect, and then what you do with it once you’ve collected it. And unless we account for those [indigenous] worldviews and give them a system to proactively develop the capacity, there is a risk of a second wave of colonization occurring—this time Silicon Valley as opposed to Britain.”

Connect:

Connect with Sean via LinkedIn or on Twitter @sean_audain

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 E123 The important role of local government in Smart Communities, Matthew Schultz

In this episode I had a great conversation with Matt Schultz, City Digital Officer at Ipswich City Council in Queensland and the National President of the Australia Smart Communities Association. Matt and I cover his wide and varied career in technology and local government, and why Matt is so passionate about helping people. We also discuss how important and complex the role of local government actually is, and why Smart Communities are so important.

Matt tells us how he sees Australia embracing Smart concepts, as well as the many interesting projects Ipswich City Council is working on to make it an open and interoperable city moving forwards. Matt then explains how ASCA came to be, from its beginnings in 2009 as the Broadband Today Alliance, and how it developed into what it is today, helping with connecting and integrating across different disciplines and industries in Australia today. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of 5G, AI, ML, IOT and blockchain, and the opportunity that lies in the fusion of all of these technologies going forwards.

This episode is brought to you by the Australia Smart Communities Association. 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:

  • Matt’s wide and varied career in technology and local government
  • Why Matt believes Smart Communities are so important and why he is so passionate about helping people
  • The promise and opportunity of Smart Communities
  • The important and complex roles of local government and how they need to change to meet community needs and customer expectations
  • How Matt sees Australia currently embracing the Smart Community space
  • The projects Matt is working on as part of his role at Ipswich City Council to make it an open and interoperable city
  • How ASCA came to be, including Matt’s role as co-founder and National President
  • The emerging trends of 5G, AI, ML, IOT and blockchain, and the opportunity that lies in the fusion of all these technologies going forwards

Quotes:

“[My passion is] really just about helping people. That’s really why I’ve stayed working in government for as long as I have.”

“I know the world has changed and will continue to change. The changes that we have are accelerating with the introduction of new technologies, those technologies and the connectivity that powers that is becoming more pervasive and ubiquitous. THe services that people are obtaining are becoming more easy to understand and connect with. People have access to much more information than they’ve had in the past. And that is changing the way that governments need to work.”

“Councils are not in competition with [the private sector] but when people interact with our council digitally they’re actually comparing us to the way that they interact with companies like Amazon, Apple and Facebook, in terms of how easily they’re able to obtain services and information. And they are comparing the way councils provide that information [or service].”

“We’ve made some good steps over recent years but we really need to keep the momentum going moving forward to try and keep up with what’s happening [worldwide].

“I think a lot of people are still trying to understand what is the return on investment [of Smart Communities]. Some people are trying to look for quick wins. It’s going to be difficult to obtain big ROIs for quick wins because this is such a long term transition.”

“ASCA is the only demand-side industry association working on development of Smart Cities or Smart Communities…We’re definitely trying to be an advocate, be a source of information, a source of value, and in time as we strengthen our capabilities we’ll do more in terms of policy influencing and things like that.”

“This [Smart Community] stuff isn’t easy. If this stuff was easy to implement and roll out and inter-operate the way we want and need it to, then there’d be a lot more of it already rolled out.”

Connect:

Connect with Matt via LinkedIn or the ASCA website

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 E122 Advancing Equity in Smart Cities, with Emily Royall

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a really fascinating discussion with Emily Royall, the Smart City Coordinator of the City of San Antonio, Texas. Emily tells us about her passion for advancing equity in Smart Cities, and the Community Driven Smart City model that San Antonio is pursuing. We discuss the digital divide in San Antonio and the equity questions municipalities need to think about when being marketed to by the companies mediating Smart City data. Emily then tells us about a number of really interesting and innovative projects the City of San Antonio is working on, including how they’ve partnered with kids in the local CoderDojo coding program to get viable prototypes for their community. Emily and I finish our conversation discussing her thoughts on integrating across disciplines and the jobs of the future, as well as the emerging trends of digital justice and digital equity. 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:

  • Emily’s varied background in neuroscience and urban systems, and her passion for advancing equity in Smart Cities
  • What sparked Emily’s interest in the Smart City and Community concept
  • The Community Driven Smart City or Smart City 3.0 Model that San Antonio, Texas is pursuing
  • The digital divide facing San Antonio and the equity questions they’re asking about Smart City data
  • The questions municipalities need to think about when being marketed to by the private companies who are mediating the Smart City data, and how San Antonio frames their engagement with the private sector
  • How Emily sees America currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The projects Emily and San Antonio are working on right now, including CivTechSA, Smart SA partnerships, the Digital Divide Assessment and a Data Governance Strategy and Communications Plan
  • The partnership between CoderDojo and the Parks and Recreation Department that sees local kids designing apps for the City of San Antonio
  • Using participatory art projects to teach people about data
  • Emily’s thoughts on integrating across disciplines and the jobs of the future
  • The emerging trends of digital justice and digital equity

Quotes:

“In this world of emerging technology that is increasingly being integrated in public space, how do we make sure that citizens are empowered by that technology?”

“When we talk about this Smart City 3.0 model, this concept of Community Driven Smart Cities [we need to ask] if we’re going to plug and play all this cool technology in public spaces, where are we creating gaps by doing that?”

“We can’t just assume that the kinds of data feeds that we get from Smart City technologies are objective or comprehensive or representative of our community. So we have to ask those equity questions on the back end too.”

“[American] local city governments are very embracing of this concept because we are so close to our citizens and we are delivering those last mile services directly to our citizens. I think the struggle in America is at the Federal and State level, we don’t have a lot of regulatory frameworks for emerging technology.”

“We have children coding apps that actually have utility for some of our city departments…I think that’s really special to see in a city, when a municipal government can actually get viable prototypes from their community for technology that they can’t build in house or they don’t want to get from the private sector.”

“Kids can be super engaged in building technology that changes how we interact with public space in the smart city.”

“I really think it starts with education…in this era where so many jobs are potentially threatened by AI, the question became how do we educate our kids? The answer became we focus on creativity and the things that humans will always be able to do.”

“I feel really strongly that the workforce of the future is going to be less siloed because the people that emerge from our education system are going to focus less on trades and skills that can later be co-opted by a machine and more on diversity of experience and awareness.”

“How is technology shaping not just how our culture evolves but how we as individuals perceive our environment and each other? Integrating the cultural development of a city with how interactions are mediated by technology is an emerging discussion.”

“The technology is not independent of us, we create it. So it’s a great time for us to be asking those hard questions about who we are as the harbingers of technological development.”

Links:

CoderDojo https://coderdojo.com/

CivTechSA https://www.civtech-sa.com/

Smart SA Partnership https://www.sa-smart.org/

Connect:

Connect with Emily on Twitter @emily_royall and 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 E121: What is ASCA?

This is a quick episode to introduce our ASCA August special here on the Smart Community Podcast.
What is ASCA?
ASCA is the Australia Smart Communities Association of which Zoe is a volunteer board member.
In August, all episodes of the Smart Community Podcast will be brought to you by the Australian Smart Communities Association with a focus on the needs of ASCA members. So we’re bringing you conversations, stories and learnings from local government agencies around the world, as well as from the board members.

Listen here:

 

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 E120 Smart Initiatives and Using Resources in India, with Aditi Padhi

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In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a great conversation with Aditi Padhi, a Senior Associate in Planning and Smart City Initiative at infrastructure and urban development company, Surbana Jurong. Aditi tells us about her background in business and architecture, and her passion for Smart Community solutions, as well as why the concept is so important to her personally. She tells us how she sees India embracing Smart City initiatives, and we also talk in depth about two projects she’s worked on. We discuss how cities must carefully manage their resources, and the very real need to educate both citizens and local government administration and other professionals to be able to fully engage in and maintain Smart initiatives. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of disaster management and multi-use facilities within cities. 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:

  • Aditi’s background in business and architecture, and her passion for Smart Community solutions
  • Why Smart City concepts are so important to Aditi
  • The concept of a ‘no dig’ Smart City
  • How Aditi sees India embracing Smart City initiatives
  • Two projects Aditi has worked on
  • How cities must carefully manage their resources
  • The need to educate both citizens and local government administration to be able to fully engage in and maintain Smart initiatives 
  • The emerging trends of disaster management and multi-use facilities within cities

Quotes:

“The ‘no dig’ Smart City idea [is] that you don’t dig into the city you work with the surface of the city as much as you can.”

“70% of Indians will be living in cities, we are looking at 100 million urban population being added every 10 years.”

“We have to talk about how Smart Cities allocate their funds. Most of the time 80% of the funds go into these highly dense developed pockets… so it’s fund intensive and it fails because it doesn’t have the supportive infrastructure all around it.”

“The truth is that cities have limited resources and you have to engage all the various disciplines to meet all the infrastructure and service needs.”

“I think the education of citizens is very important. If people are not Smart the city will not be Smart, so why not start talking about this early on as early education?”

 

Connect:

Connect with Aditi at her website http://aditipadhi.com/ or 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 E119 Using data to enable change and foster inclusivity, with Aileen Gemma Smith

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have a fascinating conversation with Aileen Gemma Smith the CEO at Vizalytics Technology Incorporated. Aileen Gemma tells us a bit about her very varied background from English Literature to Allied Health to data analytics, and how she became interested in the Smart City and Community space.

We discuss why it’s so important to understand the needs of all users so we can better deliver services to our community, and how data can help do us do this. Aileen Gemma also tells us how she sees Australia embracing Smart Concepts and some of the projects she’s working on right now, including with Transport NSW. We then discuss the power of having executive buy in and support to empower and enable teams to do things differently, and she uses the term ‘fluency’ to define the different and varied expertise and experiences we all have, and why we really need to be honouring and respecting our different expertise, experiences and fluencies when it comes time to integrate across disciplines.

Aileen Gemma and I then have a fantastic chat about changing the narratives for emerging women leaders in tech and bringing more diversity to our conversations so we can foster inclusivity. Finally, we finish our conversation discussing the lack of awareness about how much context matters when it comes to AI and machine learning, and the need for far more tech and data literacy across the board. 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:

  • Aileen’s very varied background in English Literature, Allied Health and data analytics in Japan, the US and Australia
  • What sparked her interest in the Smart Community space and why it’s so important
  • Understanding the needs of all users so we can better deliver services to our community
  • How Australia is embracing Smart concepts
  • The power of executive buy in and support to empower and enable teams to do things differently
  • The opportunity in the public sector partnering with and learning from the private sector’s iterative approach to continually develop along the way
  • The different levels and types of fluency in various expertise, and the power of connectors translating and facilitating discussions/Honouring and respecting our different expertise, experiences and fluencies
  • Projects Aileen is working on right now, including with Transport NSW and a way finding tool in New York
  • Changing the narratives for emerging women leaders in tech
  • Changing conversations, bringing more diversity to our conversations to foster inclusivity
  • The emerging trend that we’re not talking about and don’t understand enough of how much context matters in AI and machine learning
  • The misunderstandings and mis-statements about data
  • The need for more tech and data literacy and how we can facilitate that education

Quotes:

“I was completely frustrated that there was data and information absolutely available that could make a difference for citizens, whether you’re a retired senior citizen or a local shop keeper, and [people with access to that data] weren’t making an effort to say, “Let’s put this together in a way that makes sense for these folks. Let’s create new kinds of solutions.” Because I guess a lot of people thought those aren’t sexy problems…I thought there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

“I think a Smart City is something that’s inclusive for everyone. Whether you’re a retired senior citizens, someone who has just moved there two years ago, or a local business owner, a Smart City solution has to be something that keeps you as part of that conversation.”

“That’s the challenge and frustration, right? If you look at various resources that different cities have in place, this is great a wonderful but if I’m a senior citizen and I don’t know that I can go to that website and navigate and find that information, I’m not using that resource, and then that’s a disservice. So we have to think about how can we give not only more awareness, but are you making these tools use-able?”

“There’s a willingness there, and I think there’s an opportunity in public and private partnerships to say, ‘Let’s try to do this a little bit better.’”

“When you come to it with we’re honouring and respecting the fact that we’ve all got a different experience an da different lens on it, that changes it…to ‘we’re a team, we’re all working together, let’s work towards the greater good.’”

“I don’t think that there’s enough talk about how much context matters in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning…I think folks miss out on how powerful context is, as well as in some cases how hard it actually is.”

Connect:

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

Connect with Aileen via LinkedIn or on Twitter @aileengemma

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 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.