Population predications have placed the challenge of managing growth firmly in the frame for many cities across Australia. In Brisbane the city is extending its reach, pushing into the surrounding south east, opening up new plains and driving the City of Ipswich to more than double its population over the next twenty-five years.
Pictured: Renee Winsor, Environment Planning Manager at Wollongong City Council, overlooking the Greater Springfield development
Across this district, the adage ‘you can’t do it alone’ resonates, creating interwoven layers of connections and networks. In this ecosystem, local governments are working side by side with property developers, business and the State government. Economic, educational and environmental outcomes are being prioritized and enabled by technology infrastructure and an innovative attitude.
The two entrepreneurs behind the six-suburb master planned community in Springfield have adopted a three-city model across this 2,860-hectare site to create a connected Education City, Health City and an Ideas City. Their long-term vision has been given investor and planning certainty by the State enacting dedicated legislation. The developer approach is one where technology and transport infrastructure is the lead not the lag piece of the delivery plan, where partners are selected based on their values and where fifteen minutes is the maximum time someone should have to travel between work and home.
Nearby, another master planned community, ECCO Ripley, is likewise capturing the mitigation of young families, retirees and workers to the region. Differentiated by its integration of technology to achieve strong environmental outcomes this estate is focused on simultaneously preserving the natural ecosystem and creating an innovation ecosystem. Staples to this community are investments in a standalone broadband network, solar energy systems and low carbon construction materials.
While it is the two private sector players that are building the future, local government must manage the future. This requires Council to not only partner with the private sector to ensure that the technology infrastructure being delivered and deployed in the community works today but also that Council has the capacity, skills and resources to ensure it works tomorrow.
Picture taken at Ipswich's Innovation Hub, Fire Station 101
Driving the future, Matthew Schultz, City Digital Officer, Ipswich City Council long ago recognised that Councils can’t do it alone. The city has leveraged technology and innovation to shift their economic base from manufacturing to digital city through an approach that recognises that “Council has both organisational and community responsibilities to solve problems and realise opportunities”. From the Random Hacks of Kindness programme at the innovation hub, Fire Station 101, the federated architecture platform from smart sensors to the development of a virtual assistant for service delivery, the City is building its internal innovation capacity as well as that of the community.
State government is equally responsible to build organisational and community capacity. The Queensland government have taken these roles seriously investing some $600m in the Advance Queensland programme, establishing a start-up hub in Fortitude Valley to shift the local economy.
Evident from the day was that the innovation economy has no jurisdictional, geographical or hierarchal boundaries. Private, local and State government actors need to have a coordinated and concerted effort to leverage, enable and facilitate technology and innovation to manage growth in our cities.