An international collaboration of global technology companies, advisors and planners is moving to support governments in Australia in the development and roll out of smart city initiatives.
The Smart Cities Council will bring up to 15 cities, regions or towns to “smart cities readiness incubator” events in Australia this year where technology providers and experts will assist on smart city readiness and strategy.
The Smart Cities Readiness Challenge will also see the successful governments receive ongoing mentoring and support after the incubator event, as well as membership in an international alumni network.
The council has also announced inaugural national awards to recognise 10 pioneering smart city initiatives in Australia.
Adam Beck, the council’s ANZ executive director, said the goal is to increase awareness and build capacity so governments were in a better position in terms of understanding the benefits of technology and data, and making decisions around procurement and investment.
Since it formed in Seattle in 2012 the council has increased smart city awareness and capacity in governments across North America, Europe and India, said Mr Beck, a former executive director of the Green Building Council of Australia.
The readiness challenge had run for the past two years in the US, with previous participating cities including Austin, Miami, Orland and Philadelphia.
“We’re expanding the incubator for Australia,” Mr Beck told Government News. “It will be a two-day intensive where six to eight representatives from each city or agency will come and work with our members and partners through this induction in smart cities.”
Mr Beck says that just by entering for the readiness challenge and completing the rigorous application process, governments would benefit.
“Past entrants confirm there’s plenty to gain by filling out the online application which is quite deep and acts like a form of self-assessment. This process alone has helped many communities accelerate their smart city efforts.”
Applicants must answer 50 detailed questions canvassing a range of areas including their previous and current smart city priorities and initiatives, as well as leadership capacity. A shortlist of entrants is then interviewed.
Feedback and support is provided to all governments and agencies that apply, Mr Beck said.
The deadline for applications for the Smart Readiness Challenge is 28 May.
The council has also announced the inaugural Australian Smart Cities Awards Program, which aim to highlight innovative and leading approaches.
“Importantly there’s been a lot of good smart cities work for the past few years in Australia. This is an opportunity for those cities and agencies to finally get acknowledged and recognised for their leadership,” Mr Beck said.
“Awards also create competition and change in the marketplace; they’re legitimate tools for helping transform practice.”
Entries for the awards close on 2 July with the winners announced on 30 October.