Two Australian councils have been recognised among the world’s top intelligent communities by an international think tank and are now in the running for Intelligent Community of the Year.
Sunshine Coast Council and the City of Adelaide have been named in the Intelligent Community Forum’s Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2020.
ICF, a non-profit policy research organisation representing a global network of cities and regions, selected the top cities based on seven criteria reflecting the use of technology to tackle challenges and enhance quality of life.
Sunshine Coast and Adelaide were shortlisted for the top seven after previously making it into ICF’s top 21 list of smart communities.
In June, ICF will select a city out of the seven to be the 2020 Intelligent Community of the Year. Last year’s winner was Taoyuan City, Taiwan.
Sunshine Coast Council has now won the Top7 award twice in a row. Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was a significant achievement.
“For me, it’s about putting the reputation and the prominence of the Sunshine Coast on the world stage,” he told Government News.
“It’s demonstrating to our residents that we’re operating in an extremely high standard, and they can be very proud of what their council’s doing.”
The award recognises Sunshine Coast’s strong economy and for being one of the fastest growing areas in Australia.
Intelligent community vs smart city
Cr Jamieson believes an intelligent community is different to a smart city because it embraces all that’s important in the community, not just what’s happening in the economic front or the technological front.
“An intelligent community is focused on the people in the community, whereas a smart city seeks to set the physical functional parts of the city apart from the citizens,” he said.
“I think an intelligent community ensures that the citizens are at the heart of the decision making in terms of what are considered the best options at any particular point of time.”
Council is developing a new city centre in Maroochydore, situated right in the centre of the city. It will be installed in stages, with the first stage expected to launch later this year.
“It’s all about helping our citizens. We’re building a new city hall in the city as well,” Cr Jamieson said.
The centre will have the country’s first underground automated waste collection system, with all waste from buildings, streets, parks and gardens connected through underground pipes.
Through the use of pneumatic pressure, it will be sucked through to a holding station where it will be compacted and put on the backs of trucks to be taken away.
Cr Jamieson says it’s an Australian-first initiative with multiple benefits to the system.
“One, you won’t have trucks banging bins at four in the morning, two, you won’t have to remember when bin night is because effectively it’s every night,” he said.
“And three, you’ll never ever see a public bin overflowing because of the capacity of the system to suck through whatever is needed.”
A super local area network
Matt Grant, Associate Director of Economic Development and Innovation at Adelaide City, said the award validates Adelaide as a leading city on the international stage.
“A leading city that not only values technology and innovation but makes sure it’s being used for our community and puts people at the core of what we do,” he told Government News.
Mr Grant said an intelligent community improves the well being of residents rather than just seeking efficiency gains, which sets it apart from smart cities.
“Smart cities are really about tech and deploying technology, but intelligent communities are the ones that increase ability, and improve sustainability through better planning and use of tech and connectivity.”
He believes it’s important for local governments to foster intelligent communities.
“At the end of the day, as local government, our job is to improve the well being of communities and make them add value and make them better places,” he said.
“We’re doing that by using tech for the end gain of not just saving money, it’s about enhancing people’s living standards.”
The City is most proud of its Ten Gigabit Adelaide project, which will connect 1,000 buildings in the CBD to a 10 gigabit per second uncontested network by June. Currently, 700 buildings have already been connected.
“We’re using the network as a reason to pull together a business community to partner and collaborate,” Mr Grant said.
“They might not have been able to before (but will) have a fibre to fibre direct link; it will turn the city into a super local area network.”
The City will be reviewing its 5-year-old public free WiFi network, and looking to leverage the Ten Gigabit network for the upgrade.
Other cities that made the top seven list include Hamilton and Markham in Canada, Hudson and Westerville in USA and Tallinn in Estonia.
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