On route to the city of Newcastle for our 2018 Australian Domestic Exchange, the train methodically clicks through the suburbs of northern Sydney reaching the expansive areas of Brooklyn, Woy Woy and Morisset.
The communities, townships and places passed are reminders that each have their own issues, challenges and pathways forward.
It is also a reminder that not one of these communities can afford to stay still. Technology and innovation is driving a change in consumer expectations, shifting demand for different type of products and services and transforming ways communites engage and interact.
A delegate of the 2018 Australian Domestic Exchange on Smart Cities recently remarked that local government cannot afford to be a passive onlooker to change – to the challenges and opportunities that technology and innovation brings to each and every community.
Urban leaders have a responsibility to lead change and therefore need to have the capacity and capability to proactively drive how technology and innovation shapes their community.
The City of Newcastle is one of the four cities that the delegates on the 2018 Australian Domestic Exchange on Smart Cities will visit over the coming five days. Each host City: Newcastle, Ipswich, Brisbane and Adelaide, have been on a smart city journey.
Each City have shown leadership, have recognised that they cannot do it alone forming collaborations with academia, business and community organisations and have embedded innovation into all that they do.
While leadership, collaboration and innovation have been defining smart city characteristics, they are not the characteristic that define each city.
Newcastle is a thriving place focused on a transformation from an industrial city to a lifestyle destination, as the oldest provincial city in Queensland Ipswich is preserving its history with new skilled jobs for the future. The City of Brisbane has been on its own smart city journey for many years and exemplifies a safe, vibrant, green and prosperous city.
In South Australia, the City of Churches, Adelaide, is leveraging technology to become the world's first carbon neutral city.The aspirations and achievements of these four Cities reflects different community needs and priorities in which they are derived.
As the delegation of Mayors, Councillors, State and local officials, and private sector representatives investigate and interrogate the four host Cities, the same smart city qualities of leadership, collaboration and innovation must be reinforced.
However, it is not simply these same qualities that will define a smart city but rather how these same qualities are used to define the different cities.
Stay tuned for more smart city leadership insights as we travel on our journey.