Western Sydney City Deal: Digitally Connecting the West

What is a City if it is not digitally connected?

Last week, the Cities Leadership Institute hosted Federal and NSW State Government representatives along with the eight Councils at a workshop in Penrith to discuss the digital commitments of the Western Sydney City Deal – a landmark agreement where all levels of government are signed on to deliver some 30 commitments including a digital plan for the community of Western Sydney.

Premised on collaboration, the workshop brought together stakeholders with energy, focus and unified action to leverage technology, use data and drive innovation to develop a connected and smart Western Sydney. Better transport, more services and enhanced community engagement were identified as fundamental elements to bring jobs, housing options, liveability and sustainability across the region.

The Western Sydney City Deal is a 20-year-old agreement that has the sole intent of transforming Sydney’s outer-west into a unique hub of bustling infrastructure and liveability. The Deal has six priority domains: connectivity, jobs, skills and education, planning and housing, liveability and environment, governance.

Mapping out the digital action plan, workshop participants addressed key issues including:

1. What is the framework for Digital Action Plan, 5G Strategy and Open Data? 2. What are each Councils roles and responsibilities? 3. What are the roles and responsibility of existing groups and organisations? 4. How are Councils going to knowledge share and collaborate?

Cities Leadership Institute’s Executive Director, Katherine O’Regan, said technology can be leveraged in diverse ways to improve asset management, waste and recycling, community engagement, customer service, planning decisions and managing local traffic. Technology underpins the functioning and livelihood of a city and is the backbone for a successful Western Sydney City Deal.

Thinking smart means learning from others to fast track results making the presentations from City of Newcastle, City of Casey and the City Lake Macquarie valuable contributions to the workshop. From City of Newcastles’ iterative and integrated smart strategy to the City of Casey’s digital and cultural transformation and Lake Macquarie’s holistic approach to data management the insights, information and innovation shared by these cities brought a clarity and confidence for the Western Sydney journey ahead.

Katherine O’Regan said that it is necessary for cities to be smart and innovative in their approach to the Deal. Katherine urged local councils to shift their culture and develop a governance approach that can effectively and efficiently embrace technology and innovation.

A single comment made by one participant reinforced the benefit of the workshop, that : “people do not care what level of government delivers the service as long as someone does.”

A unifying statement at a unifying occasion.

Evangeline Maguire Media and Communications Coordinator - Cities Leadership Institute

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