Last week, Executive Director of Cities Leadership Institute, Katherine O'Regan, spoke at the Local Government Professionals Conference on her knowledge regarding #smartcities and what needs to be done around Sydney to better improve community engagement. Joining her was John Brockhoff, Principle Policy Officer (NSW and National) at the Planning Institute of Australia. Both speakers were joined with facilitator Erla Ronan from the Inner West Council.
The talk was incredibly personable and relaxed. The couches were places in a shallow semi-circle on the stage and created a more intimate chat between the panel. Both Katherine and John sat on a velvet couch with the backdrop of Sydney Harbour glistening with Vivid Lights behind them. While neon blue, purple and pink shone bright from behind, the speakers succeeded in grabbing the attention of the entire room.
Katherine started off the talk claiming that digital technology is vital for the success of any city and has the ability to create spontaneous moments between residents and their suburb.
"The best outcome is when you combine the human with the technology," she said.
John agreed and said that the role of community experts in pubic spaces are a necessity.
"We need to make sure regulatory practices are in place to make sophisticated living places," he said.
"It's up to councils coming up with great plans based on community engagement."
Katherine said that in order to achieve such a sophisticated and spontaneous place, it is vital that one lets go of strict frameworks and adopts an open mind.
"Have a framework but make sure it involves working from the bottom up," she said.
"Keep trying and if no is the answer then find a way around it."
The key takeaway from the talk was the panels encouragement of looking outside the box to create a modern neighbourhood.
John said it was the design and community led agendas that play an intrinsic role in a flourishing environment.
"Everyone is focused on liveability of a space....step outside traditional government boundaries," he said.
After packing up and heading home, I couldn't help but think of Sydney CBD and the fact that every aspect of the city is designed to make the most of the beautiful city.
Media and Communications Coordinator, Cities Leadership Institute.