Take 15 urban leaders, committed to getting the best for their communities from innovative use of technology, then put them on the road for five days and show them the brightest and best exponents of smart city thinking around the country. This was the Australian Domestic Exchange 2018 (ADE ’18) - and the outcome? Not just individual leaders up-skilled, recharged and reinvigorated, but an ongoing collaborative ideas exchange that keeps smart city thinking front and centre.
Tom Boyle, Strategic Planner at Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC), got together with his fellow ADE ‘18 participants this week via webinar to share his learnings and progress. His presentation, Smart Cities, Smart Council & the Digital Economy, examined the Smart City Proposition in the context of global mega-trends, the economic strategy of LMCC and local drivers within the community. While the Smart City Proposition underpins the framework that supports Lake Macquarie’s transition to a knowledge economy, Tom said it is the lessons from ADE ’18 and other Cities Leadership workshops that are driving the work of his team in refreshing the Council’s Smart Cities strategy.
One of the first initiatives since the Exchange was coordinating a rapid check-in and update to the current Strategy. By applying a broader lens to their processes, consulting widely across the whole city and embracing a new framework, Council is able to find efficiencies and make savings. The role of data collection and technology in achieving goals and realising the smart city vision was roundly discussed by the webinar participants. How can these tools be used to activate a culture of curiosity? To create more flexible government? To make space for entrepreneurs? And most importantly, what does it look like on the ground? The question of how to be better at doing regional things arose and Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director at Cities Leadership Institute emphasized the value of balancing global participation with local identity.
Of particular interest to the webinar attendees was Tom’s approach to articulation of the governance and resourcing arrangements, both those needed and those available, to support stakeholder engagement and the process of prioritising competing projects.
Interest in ‘smart cities’ continues to grow and the conversation around the webinar returned several times to how to make things happen. The discussion on how you do your bit, as an organization, to identify and resource projects lead to the group sharing views and experiences of exactly how they were making things happen. From the creation of a ‘brains trust’ to review outcomes, prioritise projects, clarify direction and identify resourcing, to incorporating smart thinking into economic development strategies, to embedding ownership of ‘smart’ across the organization – everyone had something of value to offer.
The impetus for the ADE ’18 webinar series came out of discussions on the final day of the Exchange. Enthused by what they had experienced in other cities, and fired up for their return to their local communities, the ADE participants realised the challenge of returning home and bringing others on board with their new found knowledge and connections. After their foray into online checking in and knowledge exchange this week there is no doubt that this regular webinar event will support participants maintain their ‘smart momentum’.
The value provided by collaboration and information sharing to professional support and growth can never be underestimated. In the words of one ADE ’18 participant, the whole experience was ‘So different and much more valuable than even a multi-day conference because of the discussions that stem from each presentation and how the group learns and grows together.’ It’s in that spirit that Cities Leadership Institute continues to share and grow with our Members and participants to make better cities, towns and communities.
Australian Domestic Exchange 2018 is a Cities Leadership Institute initiative supporting urban leaders grow their capacity. To learn more contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
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