Welcome to the word of Smart Cities

Welcome to the world of Smart Cities where, through the use of digital and new technologies, a city can create efficiencies for better living, and innovation. 

Smart Cities allow us to gain greater insights into what motivates us about our city, how we may choose to engage with its businesses, its cultural centres, and even with each other. Through the use of new technologies data can be gathered to better inform and improve our services to create more inspiring places for us to engage with.

How do we encourage the best from our Smart City in an economic, social and cultural context? And how do we create compelling opportunities to increase the number of visitors, increase our ratepayer base, and inspire our existing residents. 

The Urban List founder and chief executive Susannah George, spoke at the recent Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania conference. Ms George shared data from its 2016 online survey, that gave insights into the travel behaviour and aspirations of 14,000 subscribers.  What they found was overwhelmingly affirmative for regional cities like Launceston. 

The survey found that for most of their subscribers the motivation to travel and spend is not about massive retail therapy or flashiness, its about experiences and authenticity, where quality and the story are important. This was true for both the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. The survey stated that the biggest bucket list destination was Tasmania. Interestingly Millennials travel often, and as many as 62 per cent of these will do so in the next 6 months, but only 13 per cent will pre-book their itineraries. They are highly reliant on their mobile phones and use social media as a means of information sharing and gathering. How does a Smart City engage with this audience to get the best outcome for the city and its community?  

Tasmanians have a strong sense of connectedness, we are ‘close to the source’, we all know the value of community and its people, and we have easy access to our makers, we celebrate our artisans and producers. This is the envy of big cities, and is one of the key drivers for our thriving visitor economy. How do we maintain these attributes while making our city function more efficiently, and with greater innovation?

Our new internet speeds are greater than any other Australian city. How we choose to use on these assets is yet to be fully explored, but by becoming a Smart City, we can make a good start. Regional cities like Launceston know the value of its residents and know that by building its people collateral and encouraging new skills makes for a more vibrant and engaged community.

How we choose to capitalise on this, to build a more exciting and culturally rich community remains to be seen but we are on the cusp - the world of arts and culture contribute enormously to the liveability of a place and one of the greatest outcomes of a Smart City is around encouraging people to ‘have a go’  and encourage new ideas. This will open a whole new world of opportunity for our community and the world.

  • Liz Frankham is president and chair of the Junction Arts Festival and a board member of Tourism Northern Tasmania. Liz will be a panellist at a public forum organised by the university’s Institute for the Study of Social Change entitled Smart Launceston: using technology to create a more prosperous and vibrant city. The forum will be held at Enterprize, 24 Paterson Street, Launceston, on Thursday 15 June, 5.30pm for 6pm – 7.30pm.  Tickets: www.events.utas.edu.au