Bombing Big Ideas For Cities

As the pace of change increases, it is pretty hard to keep up.

If you think technology and innovation at a personal level is a challenge, try thinking about it on a city scale. How do you plan for autonomous vehicles, electric cars and bikes? How do you deliver instant personalised services and improved waste management - all while making the lives of citizens less cluttered?

In downtown Newcastle, some twenty-five city leaders took on the challenge of change, to look at what technology and innovation can mean for cities, towns and communities. The construction of the city’s transforming light rail project banging and battering away on the street outside didn't stop the urban leaders from doing their own kind of noise and impact inside.

This was no ordinary white board session to unpack and repack the issues. This was ‘idea bombing’, Newcastle style. Here, speed was of the essence, no idea was a bad idea and no one could afford to hold back.

Virtual reality, improved mobility, data intelligence, smart open spaces and enhanced accessibility were the five themes that emerged from tackling a really big question: 'What opportunities can technology and innovation bring to the Newcastle community?" Keeping the energy and spirit of speed, these urban leaders jumped into transforming these five big ideas into action.

Electric bikes, more cycle ways and linking bike share to key city events were seen as ways of solving congestion and improving the health of citizens. Bringing museums outside to parks, creating dance areas with Bluetooth connectivity and co-designing spaces for creativity were identified as places where technology can improve open spaces.

Councils delivering an uber-style approaches to waste services was a big idea discussed and an example of where big data can play a central piece in the smart city jigsaw puzzle. Also, using virtual reality to connect visitors with arts and music was a technology tourism boosting solution.

Delivering for cities at the pace and scale of change starts with idea generation. There is no doubt that the practice of Idea Bombing for Cities is a valuable way to get the ball rolling.

Now for the next city challenge – making the ideas happen.

Katherine O'Regan

Executive Director - Cities Leadership Institute

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Level 23, 45 Clarence Street

Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

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