The term ‘smart city’ can be a bit like ‘good art’ – it is hard to define but you know what it is when you see it.
In reality, it can mean anything from a city wide public wifi system and smart parking meters and sensor-controlled street lights, rubbish bins that let you know when they are full, infrastructure that interacts with smart devices pointing tourists to lol attractions, and much more.
A smart city uses information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance its liveability, workability and sustainability. What does this mean for Tasmanian councils?
There has been a shift in Tasmanian away from what might be considered traditional industries, towards tourism, service and knowledge-based industries. Improvements in technology have contributed to this change, most notably within industry and the broader community. While not a traditional area of responsibility for local government, industry and technology changes are likely to be creating expectations among the community and business about the role councils should be playing.
This poses three questions:
⦁ How should councils play a role in fostering and supporting local business and residents’ transition towards active participation within the digital economy?
⦁ How can councils adapt their service delivery in the digital age?
⦁ What internal changes do councils need to make to enable these changes?
Councils have been exploring ways that technology can be deployed to service their communities in a smarter and more efficient manner. Where previously councils have preferred a bespoke/ standalone system or service, they are now willing to use enterprise software and collaborate.
However, a number of barriers exist for Tasmanian councils to expand their digital transformation, particularly in the rural and regional areas. To overcome these barriers, councils need internal capacity and a robust skills base; community support for investing in new technology in the face of pressure on core services and infrastructure; the ability to escalate the pace of strategic activity in line with technological advancements; a culture ready to take a risk and to work across silos and finally and most importantly they need strong citizen engagement.
Regardless of the particular strategy deployed, it is clear that with the right planning and investment in digital transformation, councils can make their communities more liveable, workable and sustainable.
- Katrena Stephenson is the chief executive of LGAT.