Will your Council be applying for funding under the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program which is anticipated to open its first round of funding in the second quarter of 2017?

So, what is a ‘Smart City’?

Broadly speaking, it is using technology as an enabler to for improving efficiencies whilst providing real outcomes for the community and economy.

Funding initiatives such as the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program provide an inducement to identify and implement new projects and programs. However, one must be restraint in identifying projects which are attractive to undertake. Consideration must be given to:

  • Level and evidence of community support
  • Quadruple bottom line return on investment
  • Evaluating the benefit / risk / impacts / opportunity for both the community and organisation
  • Identifying the going maintenance costs and labour resources, in addition, to asset renewal costs
  • Relevancy – will the deliverable still be relevant in 5-10 years time?

What are some examples being adopted by Councils in developing Smart Cities?

There is an infinite number of projects which may deliver positive community outcomes, listed below is just a snippet!

Many Councils throughout Australia are still to adopt robust IT systems including Customer Service Requests, Workflows, Enterprise Content Management, Knowledge Management etc – the longer you wait to implement, the harder it will be!

Customer Service Requests (CSR) Geospatial

Spatially visualised data is quicker to assess than tabular data. Applying a geospatial system to your CSRs enables expedited analysis, identification of patterns and the ability to assess clusters of ‘issues’ and ‘hotspots’. A great system will include running queries and integrate into your existing corporate systems.

Scheduled Asset Management

Only #localgov professionals truly understand the breadth of assets which Local Government maintain (and renew)  – public assets can range from properties/facilities, trees, street furniture, street lighting, footpaths, roads, signage to library resources and front-end communications infrastructure. Internally, like any organisation there is hardware, software, office furniture, telephony and more. It is immense.

Developing an Asset Management Strategy is an overwhelming task, however once done with an automated and detailed maintenance / renewal schedule, it enables the organisation to readily plan operationally and financially.

CCTV cameras?

The rise of Councils installing CCTV cameras in public spaces. The reality is the benefits of CCTV camera in public spaces is inconclusive. Though they may deter crime and provide an opportunity to identify perpetrators post-offence, they may also divert criminal activities to other areas and do not ‘protect’.

Stormwater Harvesting

Reduce your environmental and long-term potable water costs, by recycling your stormwater to irrigate, parks, gold courses and playing fields.  Through stormwater harvesting, one NSW Council has achieved an annual reduction of 95% in potable water expenses.

Transparency through Open-Data

The City of Pittsburgh have taken an extraordinary brave and bold approach to open data. Burgh’s Eye View, an initiative of their Department of the Innovation & Performance’s Analytics & Strategy Team, is an app and website which maps crime, customer service request, violations and more. In NSW, some of this information is provided spatially via the Department of Justice.

Mobile first

Mobility is the ability for your customer to access information and customer service from anywhere on any device at a time that suits them. According to the ACMA, at May 2015, 94% of Australian adults use portable communication devices.  The growth of mobile phone only consumers also continued during 2014 – 15 with 5.4 million adult Australians (29 per cent) estimated to be without a fixed-line telephone service in their home.

Therefore, customers expect mobile-friendly support, with channels ranging from webchat to social media.

DIY Customer Service

More customers are preferring to locate information themselves rather than to contact a customer services agent. According to Microsoft’s own Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, more than 90% of the 4,000 consumers surveyed say they now expect brands and organisations to have a customer self-service offering.

Tools to achieve self-service include:

  • A FAQs database on your website
  • Customer Online Forums
  • Intelligent search and web chat enabling ‘automated responses’ to online enquiries
  • Knowledge management systems with a client facing portal.

Where to start?

  • Establish an internal working group with representatives from each department
  • Identify a handful of projects which may have some legs
  • Establish your assessment criteria
  • Undertake a complete risk/benefit analysis based on quadruple bottom line
  • Articulate the community benefit and outcomes
  • Short-list the projects
  • Prepare your stakeholder engagement plan – ensure all stakeholders are identified by segment
  • Undertake stakeholder engagement – drive engagement 24/7 with compelling online tools via Engagement Hub.
  • Review and analyse community feedback
  • Develop your funding submission and present to your Council’s Executive Team for endorsement

More about Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

Intended Outcomes

  • Improvement in the liveability of cities by applying smart technology solutions (‘solutions’) to urban issues, engaging citizens and opening access to public data.
  • Building smart city and smart technology capability in local governments by encouraging stronger links and collaboration with industry, not-for-profits and research organisations.

Key Priority Areas

  • Smart Infrastructure
  • Smart Services
  • Smart Precincts
  • Smart Planning

Funding Thresholds

The minimum grant amount is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount is $5 million. This is match funded.

Find out more > https://cities.dpmc.gov.au/