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Policy Submission: draft Smart Waverley Strategy 2023, Waverley Council, NSW


Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators submitted on the draft Smart Waverley Strategy 2023 by Waverley Council in New South Wales. The policy is the city's first smart city strategy and will help Waverley transition towards a smarter community and deliver better services.


The draft Smart Waverley Strategy 2023 can be read here: https://haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au


Our submission is below.

Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators (SCCei) are pleased to see Waverley Council preparing their smart city policy Smart Waverley Strategy 2023: Smart Cities to prepare the city for the changes that will occur through smart innovation. SCCei support the preparation of the document and Council’s thinking on the topic of smart cities.


Regarding the Principles, these are similar to those in other council’s smart city policies; like Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. However, we believe they can be improved through greater emphasis on what issues are currently facing Waverley and its own context. There is a significant risk in smart city policies of broad principles resulting in a lack of tangible impact for residents and visitors due to a lack of clear direction. We therefore recommend the revising of the Principles to identify sectors and measurable metrics in Waverley that the policy can directly address. A good example is from Smart, Connected Brisbane which identifies in its high-level provisions specific sectors that the policy will primarily deliver for such as transport, job creation, lifestyle and cultural meaning in the city, and environmental sustainability.


The Priorities in the policy are well-considered and balanced between the established areas within the smart city sector. We note an emerging subject within the sector is regarding culture and significance within the city. This subject seeks to utilise smart technology to improve the cultural identity and social meaning within a city. It seeks to answer the questions: what stories and identities is the smart technology conveying about the city?, is the city proud of its achievements, people, past, and culture?, and how can Waverley enhance its vibrancy and identity through smart technology and innovation? We recommend to add ‘Context’ or a similar focus to the Priorities which will speak to these points and filter through the Outcomes and Actions. Again, Smart, Connected Brisbane provides a good example of adding social and cultural significance to their policy through a provisions titled “which seeks to “explore and create meaning out of our city’s data” and “predict and deliver inclusive, tailored digital experiences for Brisbane’s residents, businesses and visitors”.


Many of the given Outcomes do not state the purpose for why those outcomes are desired or required to improve the city and what pain-points are being addressed. We warn of adopting new technology for technology’s sake and recognise that the long-term success of smart city initiatives depends on tangible benefits being realised in the community through this initial policy. We recommend the rephrasing of the Outcomes to align them more clearly with the direction of the higher provisions and the questioning of whether these Outcomes address requests from the public and are actually required.


The Outcomes focus too heavily on digitalisation rather than smart city initiatives. Digitalisation is the transfer of analogue files and processes to a digital format. Although this is an important first step to enabling digital innovation in the delivery of public services, we encourage thinking beyond simply digitising existing services and to focus on the opportunities created through digitisation and the creation of data on Council’s assets and processes. We encourage the following questions to be asked: How can data or this digital tool be used to improve the way space in the city is utilised by community groups? How can this data or digital tool promote innovation and sustainability in new development? Allow greater community involvement in decision making processes? There are countless opportunities to move past the digitalisation of services into automated or seemingly autonomous services that can support your city.


However, we recognise digitisation can be a lengthy and resource-intensive process. Therefore in the first instance we recommend prioritising information and processes that have the ability to deliver ‘quick wins’ to demonstrate value and encourage ongoing support for smart city initiatives. We recommend prioritising information and processes that have the greatest potential to add value and deliver digital innovation beyond increased efficiencies. This method has provided the needed short-term support for the longer smart city journey.


Regarding Actions, we recommend the addition of a specific Actions to strengthen collaboration with adjacent councils and state agencies. Interoperability is a key principle of smart city development and the greatest benefits will be realised when the systems work for a city as a whole. Actions could include leading discussions to set up common standards for local government data and hosting or participating in “show and tell” events to share and learn from initiatives in other local government areas. We also recommend revising the existing Actions in line with our above recommendations of higher order provisions.


Thank you for the opportunity to submit on draft Smart Waverley Strategy 2023: Smart Cities. We are seeking to grow our engagement with local councils in Australia to provide guidance on the smart city sector and its policies and actions. We encourage you to reach out to us via the email address regarding future opportunities to engage.


Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators is an emerging professionals network across Australia and New Zealand in association with Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand. Our vision is to connect and empower emerging innovators to deliver world class leadership for smart cities. You can contact us via sccei@anz.smartcitiescouncil.com.