Located on the Yangtze River in Sichuan province, Chongqing was once known for its isolation behind high mountains, which led Chiang Kai-shek to make it his wartime capital. In 1983, Chongqing became the country’s first inland port open to foreign trade and was authorized to experiment with liberal economic policies. With the construction of the Three Gorges Dam nearby, Chongqing was named a “direct city” in 1997, joining Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai in independence from provincial government. Under its aggressive and popular Mayor Bo ilai, the city has grown explosively since then. In 1998, its GDP was $21 billion; by 2009, it had grown fourfold to $86bn, twice the growth rate of China as a whole. Fully 90% of the industrial goods manufactured there are sold in China. The city is investing heavily in its future by expanding rail lines, highways, the airport and digital infrastructure. Hewlett-Packard has a call center in Chongqing and plans a laptop factory. Chongqing attracts more direct foreign investment than any other city in central or western China - $2.7 billion in 2008 alone.
Every week, the city of Whittlesea gains 175 new residents, which adds up to 2,500 new households per year and makes it one of Australia’s fastest growing municipalities. While residential construction is booming, however, job creation is not. Whittlesea is a large urban/suburban/rural district on the northern fringe of the city of Melbourne, where two-thirds of Whittlesea residents earn their living. The city’s business community consists of a declining manufacturing sector made up for by growing construction, retail and services sectors. Nearly 80% of its businesses are small. Only 10% are exporters and only 25% of these provide online products and services.
A Foundation of Conduit
City Council began laying the foundation for a different economy in 2001, when it started requiring all greenfield developments to install fiber-ready conduit and transfer ownership to Council. Within a few years, this asset made it possible for the city to able to attract fiber network investment into housing and mixed-use developments. The large and growing conduit system also attracted Australia’s National Broadband Network to make Whittlesea a deployment site. About 40% of the city now has access to fiber and 70% of premises are expected to receive 100 Mbps service by 2015. User adoption is among the fastest in the nation.
Whittlesea is already proving attractive to some large-scale industrial developments spilling over from Melbourne, including a wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market, as well as food processing, logistics and warehousing. While welcoming this growth, Whittlesea has focused on bringing its existing small business community into the digital age. An ICT scorecard project has evaluated ICT adoption at 1,600 businesses. Owners can now compare themselves to their peers, which creates pressure for progress. A Digital Enterprise program offers the technology training they need to increase their competitiveness. The Council is also encouraging the start-up and relocation of home-based businesses that can use ultrafast broadband to provide high-value services. For citizens, Whittlesea’s libraries offer training, technology and a demonstration center called the Digital Hub, where they can see 100 Mbps service in action.
Digital in Place of Physical Infrastructure
The emphasis on broadband and ICT has already moved the dial in terms of educational attainment. In 2011, just 21% of residents had completed higher education, compared with 32% in 2014. Professionals in the workforce have jumped from 17% of the total to 25% over the same period.
Each year, Whittlesea conducts a household survey to find out what is most on the minds of its residents. According to the latest survey, it is all about infrastructure failing to keep pace with strong growth, whether it is roads, public transportation, schools or social services. The city’s Intelligent Community strategy aims to help the community use ultrafast broadband to obtain services, expand e-commerce, improve education and reduce demand for transportation, so that the growth engine can keep running while delivering a higher quality of life.
Smart21 2007 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
The Sunshine Coast is a metropolitan area that spreads across 2,291 square kilometers of Australia’s coastline about 100 kilometers north of Brisbane. A sub-tropical paradise of beautiful beaches and scenic mountains, the Coast has experienced boom times and almost doubled its population since the 1980s from tourism and retirement relocation, which drove the growth of construction and retailing. But the ebbing of the commodities boom that fueled Australia’s economy has revealed the fragility of the local economy.
Sunshine Coast Council worked with leading business, industry and the Queensland Government to develop the Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 which provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth to transition its economy from the challenging times experienced as a result of volatile global financial conditions to a new and more diverse, adaptable, robust and vibrant economy.
And yet, the future looks bright on the Sunshine Coast. The region has averaged 2.7% annual growth over the last decade, making it one of the fastest growing areas in Australia and is independently ranked as the second strongest performing economy in the state of Queensland.
Its economy continues to evolve into a modern, smart economy based on sound growth across numerous high value and knowledge-based industries including professional business services, innovative manufacturing and numerous high-tech start-ups.
Speed It Up Program
The Sunshine Coast government introduced the “Speed It Up” campaign in 2016. The campaign is designed to spread knowledge of the benefits of high-speed Internet access as well as how to obtain it. As part of the campaign, Digital Sunshine Coast has partnered with a variety of telecommunications providers in the area to display coverage maps of business grade broadband availability on its website (digitalsunshinecoast.com.au). The site also provides a free Wi-Fi Locations tool for residents to find sites with public Internet access. Finally, the Digital Sunshine Coast website includes as Want Faster Internet page with a short survey that residents can take to tell the government more about their Internet needs. The website experienced an average of 1000 page views per month in 2016, with hundreds of submissions on the Speed It Up and Want Faster Internet pages. The city council then used the data gathered to negotiate better coverage areas with local telecommunications providers.
Based on the data gathered by the Speed It Up campaign, the city has installed 260 free public Wi-Fi access points in more than 45 locations throughout the city as part of the Sunshine Coast WiFi Network. With the new Wi-Fi availability, the Sunshine Coast has set up beacons to provide localized information for the community and visitors, including guided walks and art sculpture and restaurant locations. The free Sunshine Coast Council app allows anyone connected to the public Wi-Fi to access this information as well as pre-order food and drinks at the stadium, book restaurants and obtain event guides. The Council has also developed a disaster hub that may be accessed through the app or via the web to provide safety information, important warnings and breaking news in the event of a local emergency.
The Sunshine Coast WiFi Network also has IoT applications. Data collected from public WiFi usage statistics has been used by Council, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses to inform decision making and optimize services provided to the community. The Sunshine Coast Stadium uses the public WiFi network to advertize event food and beverage offers to the crowd, and Downtown Caloundra uses smart WiFi data to determine the success of events in attracting people to the local shopping area. Free public WiFi in key visitor destinations also aids in increasing user generated content about the region on social media and travel sites, improving the Sunshine Coast’s appeal to tourists.
From 2020, the Sunshine Coast will deliver the fastest telecommunications connection to Asia from Australia's east coast and the second fastest to the US through a new 550km submarine optic fibre cable which now connects to the 9600km Japan-Guam-Australia submarine cable. Construction of a cable landing station was completed in September 2019 and the submarine cable landed on the Sunshine Coast on December 23, 2019.
Engaging the Next Generation Workforce
As of 2016, the Sunshine Coast has lowered its youth unemployment rate to only 5.4% with a series of programs and initiatives. The city held its first ever Job Show in August 2015, showcasing current and upcoming job vacancies throughout the Sunshine Coast. More than 2000 people participated in the Job Show, including 62 of the Sunshine Coast’s largest public- and private-sector employers. The Show also featured workshops by industry professionals to educated job seekers about the knowledge and skills they will need to enter those industries. The Job Show has become an annual event in years following due to its success.
The Sunshine coast hosted the Future Careers+ 2025 Expo in 2016, 2017 and 2018, providing a wealth of information on careers in technology and innovation as well as the education pathways required for them. More than 60 exhibitors showcased products and prototypes at the expo with 1,600 students, parents and educators attending. After the expo, the Future Careers content was serialized in magazine form and distributed to 60,000 homes in the city. The city also hosted its first CoderDojo in June of 2014. CoderDojo is a global collaboration that provides free learning to young people, particularly in the area of programming technology. The Sunshine Coast CoderDojo covers a wide variety of topics including basic web, app, and game development. While the first CoderDojo was held at the Institute of Professional Learning, in subsequent years the program has been expanded to three Sunshine Coast libraries due to its popularity.
TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Queensland East Coast is a program that offers entry-level skill sets and certificates as well as high-level diplomas and bachelor degrees. The majority of TAFE courses combine classroom learning with job placements with local employers to enable students to experience hands-on learning in a real-world environment. TAFE courses are available to high school students in year 11 and 12 and provide certifications as well as qualifications for post-secondary education requirements. The program also serves those looking to change or improve their careers through new skills and licenses or university course work. TAFE also has a dedicated apprenticeship program that combines structured and workplace training with paid employment.
In addition to training programs, the Sunshine Coast has offered a series of innovation-focused programs over the past several years. These programs include the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards, Startup Weekend, and the Generation Innovation Challenge. All three programs feature youth entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, providing a platform for students to share their ideas with potential employers across the Sunshine Coast. RoboCoast is a hub of state and private schools promoting robotics and coding through student training days, visits and a range of fun robotics competitions.
Building an Innovation Hub in Australia
Between 2014 and 2016, the Sunshine Coast has grown from having only 1 innovation center and public co-working space to 7 co-working spaces, a new business incubator and 5 coding programs. The city council has taken a leading role in digital engagement to make this possible, including setting up the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem mapping project to coordinate and grow the local network of co-working spaces and programs. The map shows budding entrepreneurs where they can find support and resources from the government and business community as they start their businesses and provides an easy way for businesses to communicate and collaborate throughout the region. In 2019, due to growing demand, the ecosystem expanded from 7 to 10 co-working clusters hosting a total of 76 organizations, programs and activities.
The Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast (ICSC), established in 2002 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of the Sunshine Coast, serves as central hub for startups in the city with dedicated facilities, a prototyping lab, powerful online platforms, grants and seed funding connections and readily available mentors for new startup companies. Over 50 businesses are located at the Innovation Centre as of 2019, and more than 260 have graduated from startup incubator and accelerator programs since the center’s establishment with 89% still operating successfully. The Innovation Centre is the longest-running business incubator and accelerator of its kind in the region.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (SCRIPT) is a collaboration of local entrepreneurs, businesses, government stakeholders and community members designed to grow innovation and business capacity on the Sunshine Coast. SCRIPT is investing over AUD $1 million in collaborative activities and supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in bringing their ideas to commercial fruition. The program focuses on grassroots projects that help to connect, educate and inspire the Sunshine Coast community. In 2018 and 2019, SCRIPT has funded six projects and coordinated #TeamSunshineCoast at the influential innovation and entrepreneurship conference Myriad Festival in 2018. SCRIPT also hosted a 12-week startup onramp training and mentoring program for first-time startup founders in August and September of 2018. The onramp training program provided skills and guidance for launching tech and other startups successfully and on a global scale.
The Sunshine Coast Council has also served as an advocate and facilitator for the Smart Centre, which is a public shop front in the city. The area serves as a testing ground for Smart City technologies to enhance community education and stimulate ideas on adaptation and growth. The government has provided free Wi-Fi in 45 public areas as part of this effort to help gather data on movements and usage.
Sunshine Powers the Sunshine Coast
The 15 megawatt Sunshine Coast Solar Farm was completed in 2017, making the Sunshine Coast Council Australia’s first local government to offset 100% of its electricity consumption across all of its facilities and operations with green energy. These facilities include administration buildings, swimming pools, performance venues, community centers, libraries, and recreation facilities throughout the city. The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is the only city-council-owned solar farm in Queensland and the first grid-connected, utility-scale facility of its kind in Australia. The solar farm is expected to save the city approximately $22 million over the next 30 years due to the council’s lower electricity costs. As of its first few years of operation, the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm reduced local government energy costs by AUD $2 million between 2017 and 2019.
The Sunshine Coast has one of the largest rooftop solar uptakes of any local government area in Australia, with 41% of dwellings choosing to harness the sun: 49,900 solar PV rooftops (equivalent to 183MW capacity). In April 2019, the urban centre of Caloundra was named one of the top five rooftop solar postcodes in Australia. In August 2018, the city council began installing 30 kilowatts of solar panels to the roof of the Nambour waste transfer station, further expanding its rooftop solar program and building on the success of the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm. Four of the council’s eight waste transfer stations already feature rooftop solar installations, with arrays added to Buderim, Witta and Beerwah early in 2019. The Sunshine Coast also added 60KW of solar power across Nambour and Caloundra during the 2018-2019 financial year.
The Sunshine Coast expects its population to nearly double again over the next two decades, but that growth will be based on a diversified, digitally-powered economy ready for 21st Century success.
Smart21 2014 | 2015 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021
Top7 2019 | 2020
Like much of the nation, the state of South Australia has long depended on a mix of mining, agriculture and heavy manufacturing to sustain its economy. Today, all three are stagnant or declining in terms of job creation, due to slowing resource exports and the slow collapse of the Australian automobile industry. These global economy trends have put pressure on the small city of Prospect to the east of Adelaide, with its 1.3 million people.
High-Speed Access with NBN
Across Australia, the National Broadband Network Company is rolling out the National Broadband Network (NBN), replacing the old copper wire broadband infrastructure with fiber-optic, fixed wireless and satellite infrastructure that boasts download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. The city of Prospect has partnered with the NBN Company since 2012 to make the transition as seamless as possible and to make certain that all its residents and business owners know about the game-changing network now available to them. To further this effort, the Prospect City Council has posted numerous news articles about making the switch to NBN to its websites. The local magazine and newspaper have also published NBN advertisements aimed at local businesses. The City Council and NBN have held several community sessions at Prospect’s Digital Hub, and an NBN liaison has presented at multiple business networking events in the city to explain the process of switching to NBN.
While educating its citizens about NBN, the city of Prospect has also set up two other broadband projects to bring high-speed NBN access to the general population. The Broadband Cafés project offers public, high-speed Wi-Fi in a variety of cafés throughout the city. These cafés show videos about the project to their customers, which have been very well received; one particular broadband café has had as many as 17,000 views since the project began.
The city’s most recent broadband project is the Prospect Road Innovation Precinct initiative. The initiative, created through a partnership with the South Australian State government (through the GigCity program), the University sector, local coworking businesses and a property developer, is an alternative to the NBN fibre optic network installed along the Prospect Road mainstreet. This network will offer 10Gbps data transfer to South Australia’s three major universities and key industrial sites as well as inexpensive 1Gbps (upload and download) internet connections to local businesses. This “GigCity” service already has 4 key sites committed for the new service, including two existing coworking and shared office spaces on Prospect Road and a newly commissioned office development. These sites can provide additional space for incubation to assist innovative business and entrepreneurs or administrative support for the defense and space industries.
Prospect's Digital Economy Strategy
The city of Prospect has worked closely with the federal government and NBN Co to educate and support local businesses as well as residents. Together, they have implemented the “Next Generation” Digital Economy Strategy, which outlines projects and initiatives to encourage outside investment and local business use of digital technology. The city completed stage one of the strategy in 2016, launching the new Network Prospect brand and website (www.networkprospect.com.au) at the annual Tourrific Prospect Street Party. The Network Prospect website serves as a one-stop shop, promoting local businesses, investment opportunities, and economic development initiatives for the whole region. Hundreds of Prospect businesses have signed up for the site’s business directory, creating a network of local businesses with increased visibility to the community and abroad.
To further support the Digital Economic Strategy, the city rolled out Prospect Fast Wi-Fi in 2017. Prospect Fast Wi-Fi is a free public Wi-Fi system with 12 access points and 3 backhaul radio stations that offers some of the fastest free Wi-Fi available in Australia over a 500m area along Prospect Road. Plans are already in place to expand the coverage with an additional 3 access points and one more backhaul radio station, which would provide full coverage to the area around the new cinema development. The city makes anonymous usage data available to local businesses as well to let them track local retail trends.
To help citizens make better use of plentiful internet availability, Prospect established a Digital Hub in public library space with the use of federal grant money. Since its creation, the Digital Hub has delivered over 10,000 digital literacy training sessions, including a mix of one-on-one and group training sessions. Training topics include staying safe online, what options are introduced by modern online technology and apps and how to use them. Many community groups now use the computers in the space on a regular basis, including ERSRF (a group for people with disabilities living in supported accommodation), Prospect Centre (an alternative education facility), and Subatomic (a gaming group for young people on the autism spectrum). The Digital Hub also hosts tech-based school holiday activities, including green screen photography and stop motion animation creation, delivered by the Digital Literacy team at the library.
The Digital Economy Strategy also includes a busy schedule of bi-monthly events geared toward the professional services sector. The events aim to foster local business-to-business transactions, particularly for the many local businesses run from residents’ homes. In addition to networking opportunities, these events provide marketing education and guidance, including search engine optimization and social media training.
The Connected Cities project, proposed by the city of Prospect and the University of Adelaide in 2017 and funded in February 2018, aims to collect data on park usage and movements in Prospect to support future IoT infrastructure. Connected Cities will set up sensors in local parks and connect them to the LoRaWan network to monitor the use and maintenance of city council assets. The sensors will allow the council to understand what is happening in local parks and tailor maintenance to specific need rather than a fixed schedule. In addition, the information will assist the facilities booking system project in finding space and time availability.
The Connected Cities project, with the help of a local IoT startup named ConnectedParks, has installed sensors in main street sidewalks in Prospect, Magill and Port Adelaide to measure footfalls. The data gathered by these sensors is used to provide information to the council, main street committees and local businesses. This will allow businesses to adapt opening hours to foot traffic patterns.
A Collaborative Community
With the City Council’s support, a pair of Prospect entrepreneurs has set up a co-working space on Main Street called Little City Studio. Known locally as “a city within a city,” Little City Studio is a collaborative working space for residents who have outgrown their home offices or who want to build networks in a relaxed and affordable environment. Little City resident businesses have access to high-speed broadband, a boardroom, training events, and a Council-sponsored accelerator program. Little City Studio has been so successful that the space is now full, and the City Council is currently considering plans for a new innovation center incorporating the Prospect Library, the Prospect Community and Civic Centres, and the Digital Hub and Gallery.
Network Prospect is a network of local businesses designed to improve marketing and networking opportunities, as well as establish digital skills workshop. The network’s website features with a local business directory to encourage visitors to “shop local.” The website includes profiles and articles for over 330 local small-to-medium Prospect businesses, with links to professionals’ LinkedIn profiles to drive local networking. Network Prospect hosts six business training and networking events each year, with an average of 60 business registrants per event. These events encourage small businesses to come and learn new skills, digital strategies and network with other local business. Network Prospect’s social media presence has grown rapidly since inception, driving 117,352 impressions on local business stories, reaching 73,538 people, with 41,400 views of video profiles of local small business people in the last 12 months.
These programs strengthen Prospect's appeal as a bedroom community for Adelaide while equipping its people and businesses for independent economic success in the digital economy.
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Prospect was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Smart21 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2017 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021
Melbourne is Australia’s second largest municipality and the capital of the state of Victoria. A leading financial center, this city of 130,000 is at the center of a metropolitan area of 4.5 million people and is hub for the Australian film and television industries. In 2016, The Economist named Melbourne as the world’s most livable city for the sixth year in a row.
Filling the Gaps
Australia, however, ranks 48th in the world for the speed and services available over broadband, due to a long history of monopoly and duopoly markets. That has put Melbourne’s people, institutions and businesses at a disadvantage in reaping the economic and social benefits of the digital revolution. As a midsize city, Melbourne has many competing service providers but also significant gaps in coverage outside its central business district. A group of frustrated Internet users teamed with a community-led pilot project in Melbourne to create Lightning Broadband, which uses a mix of optical fiber and wireless to connect high-rise apartments and business customers at 100 Mbps. Rolling out in Melbourne suburbs now, it is targeting a national build-out in areas underserved by private carriers and bypassed by Australia’s National Broadband Network.
The Melbourne metro region is home to hundreds of two-year colleges and more than a dozen universities. Nearly 47% of its population has a graduate or undergraduate degree. City government and nonprofits have therefore targeted programs at segments of the population that are not participating fully in the knowledge economy. Code Like a Girl runs a series of tech-focused events around the city. Targeting females from 13 to 45, events like Creative Coding and The Internet of (Girl) Things teach basic programming skills while awakening girls and women to new career opportunities.
A small-scale program called Life Experience Skills Sharing pairs young people of post-secondary age with socially isolated older people in sessions where the youngsters teach digital skills. While older citizens learn to navigate the digital world, their younger companions gain in self-esteem, empathy and communication skills. The annual Melbourne Knowledge Week Festival, launched in 2010, consists of conferences, workshops and demos that showcase a smart and innovative city and brings the future city to life today.
Two projects, one in production and the other in development, are equipping Melbourne with new innovation districts. The Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at RMIT, a public research university, creates collaborative projects between researchers and industry, and equips them with technology and equipment to speed up prototyping and design of the manufacturing process. Early results include a 3D printed spine implant and an improved car seat for the Tesla Model S.
The Carlton Connect Initiative (CCI) aims to bring together people from diverse disciplines to one precinct, where CCI will create and curate partnerships between research and industry locally, nationally and globally. It has established the Melbourne Accelerator Project, whose 24 startup teams have already created 150 jobs and generated A$10 million in revenue. LAB-14 is CCI’s first small-scale demonstration site, where 270 people are at work on projects from computing through artistic creation. When CCI is complete, it will be Australia’s largest innovation district and home to the Melbourne School of Engineering.
Helping the Homeless Online
Like many successful cities, Melbourne faces sharp increases in its cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing, both of which contribute to the problem of homelessness. Though the city offers a wide range of support services finding is difficult for the homeless because information can be outdated, waiting lists long and the rules complex. Melbourne’s answer is Ask Izzy, a new mobile website that connects the homeless, or those at risk of homelessness, with essential services. Research showed that 80% of people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne own a smartphone. Ask Izzy is a free location-based directory that helps them find food, shelter, health and other critical services. It was developed by a partnership among a Melbourne nonprofit, Google, RealEstate.com.au and News Corp Australia.
Sustaining the Community
Melbourne makes sustainability strategy a community affair. Its Smart Blocks Solar Rebate program helps apartment owners and building managers install solar panels to reduce energy costs. The installation of a solar system on common property requires the owner or executive committee to work together to develop the concept, build a business case, and engage tenants, apartment managers and suppliers. The Smart Blocks program provides advice throughout the process. It had installed 144 KW of solar through the end of 2015 and is saving apartment owners an average of A$25,000 in energy costs per year.
Melbourne’s top score for livability is partly the product of a community plan called Future Melbourne. In 2016, the city began to refresh the plan, renaming it Future Melbourne 2026, through meetings of a Citizen’s Jury made up of residents, workers and business executives. To broaden participation, it created a digital forum called Participate Melbourne, which lets members of the community contribute to decision’s shaping the city’s future. The result has been 970 ideas for projects and a program of events that engaged participation from 2,000 people. Meanwhile, the 250,000 registered users of Participate Melbourne logged more than 50,000 sessions in a single year. Working together, the people, businesses and institutions of Melbourne are building a future that leverages the city’s strengths while working to close the gaps left by the past decade of development.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2017
Smart21 2006 | 2017
In 2011, the city of Ipswich published a 20-year economic development plan for its population of 195,000. It forecast the addition of 292,000 new residents, who will require an additional 120,000 jobs, and will live in a network of distinct communities interwoven with centers of employment, recreational facilities and green space. The plan responded to future challenges but also to past ones. Because Ipswich offered affordable housing and an attractive lifestyle, its population has grown rapidly in the booming economy of 21st Century Australia. Yet the decline of industrial employment in the 70s and 80s had left the city with legacy of long-term unemployment and bred unacceptable levels of crime and social dislocation.
Ipswich has been quick to seize multiple opportunities to carry out the plan. The Australian government’s National Broadband Network (NBN), announced in 2009, opened the possibility of attracting significant investment into the region. Ipswich City Council partnered with surrounding city and regional councils to build a case for NBN rollout of what it termed the Western Corridor National Broadband Network. The governments mapped current and proposed broadband infrastructure, developed joint policies and solicited support from business and industry groups. Their work was rewarded in 2010, when NBN announced that two locations in the region would receive the first deployments of fiber to the premise. Work has progressed rapidly since then with over 39,000 premises now able to connect to the NBN fixed-line high-speed broadband network as of September 2017. Another nearly 34,000 premises are currently in build-commencement for FttN, FttDP, HFC, and Fixed Wireless connections. Ipswich is projected to have 100% city-wide connection by 2019.
A similar strategy has driven 3G and 4G mobile deployment. Governments combined to conduct independent testing of availability throughout the region, which sent testing vehicles across more than 2,300 kilometers of roads. The effort paid off by letting governments bring objective data to their negotiations with carriers about where towers should go to provide the broadest possible coverage. But Ipswich has been as ready to partner with the private sector as to pressure it. Acting as intermediary, Ipswich has coordinated between property developers and NBN to direct NBN investment in conduit to areas where property developers or the city are launching construction, which saves all parties time and money. The Ipswich City Council has simultaneously worked to raise awareness of the NBN deployment within the community by facilitating community education sessions, providing presentations to city stakeholder groups about the benefits and adding NBN construction impacts and rollout timings to Council e-newsletters, social media posts and advertisements. The city’s awareness campaign has already produced results with NBN’s latest report estimating that 51% of premises in Ipswich with NBN fiber connection have opted for the service, well over the state and national averages.
An Innovation Hub
Ipswich faces an unusual growth situation, having both the fastest growing population in Queensland and the youngest on average. This has put pressure on the City Council to ensure many new jobs are available when its young citizens join the workforce. Enter Fire Station 101.
Fire Station 101 is a hub for startups and innovators that provides education, mentoring and even potential funding. The hub has been open since March 2016 as a place where entrepreneurs come to build new ideas around digital technology. By raising the profile of entrepreneurship and innovation in the community, Ipswich aims to foster economic diversification while developing a skilled, knowledge-based workforce and jobs.
And it’s working. Fire Station 101 gained 50 member startups in its first six months of operation and has hosted over 150 startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses as of 2017.
In 2016, the hub began serving as home to Ipswich’s Application Studio. The Application Studio is a formal framework for city service experts, open data analysts, and innovators to collaborate in developing new city services and projects. In its first year, the program has brought in over $190,000 in new public-private funding of projects by the Ipswich City Council, the Queensland State Government, Ipswich and West Moreton Hospital, the University of Southern Queensland, Queensland Urban Utilities and Motor Trade Association Queensland. Due to this success, the Queensland State Government has allocated a further $500,000 for a new Application Studio initiative to build a schools-focused entrepreneurial program and a variety of accelerator programs.
The Ipswich Smart City Program
Building on its first twenty-year plan, the Ipswich City Council has created the Smart City Program. The program has adopted a human-centered design approach, focusing on the needs of citizens, local entrepreneurs, city workers and even tourists. The Smart City Program has three core goals: jobs, growth, and livability for Ipswich.
To meet the goal of jobs, the Council has extended Fire Station 101’s mandate to researching civic challenges in partnership with local industry and universities. Ipswich has also created a Digital Skills Initiative for all Ipswich residents, working with schools and adults in the community. The Digital Skills Initiative includes a wide range of digital skill and technology demonstration classes with many delivered for free in the city’s libraries and innovation hubs. Finally, the Council hosts the Build and Learn Fair, an event that encourages residents and visitors to build and showcase creations like robots and wood works. This event aims to give residents a hands-on experience of the new possibilities available in the Ipswich jobs market.
The City Council has adopted multiple green initiatives to help Ipswich sustain its current and future growth. These initiatives include Eco-Village Micro, a grid program with solar energy, batteries and energy trading technologies currently in development, and also a smart lighting program for the city with LEDs, sensors and data analytics for maximum efficiency. The Council is investigating converting some of its fleet to electric vehicles and is in the trials phase of autonomous public transport for the city.
As part of the Smart City Program, Ipswich has partnered with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to run the Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI), Australia’s largest cooperative intelligent transport system program. The initiative focuses on analyzing the safety and benefits of cooperative vehicles, publicly demonstrating the technology to increase awareness and adoption and increasing technological readiness for new vehicle innovations. CAVI’s eventual aim is to facilitate a dedicated study and trial of autonomous electric vehicles for public transport through partnerships between the public and private sector.
To enhance the livability of Ipswich as a city, the Council has adopted the Safe Precinct initiative: leveraging its city network to create a safe precinct via video analytics, smart lighting and noise detection. The Council has also helped to develop a healthy living lab with wearables and other technologies designed to capture real-time data about the health and activity of residents in order to better meet their needs. Perhaps most importantly of all, the Ipswich City Council has created new platforms for delivering its services online, making it easier for citizens to learn about and utilize all the city has to offer.
Beginning in 2015, Ipswich commenced a major redevelopment of its city center, where digital technologies will be used to attract commercial and residential tenants and to improve public safety through video monitoring, license plate and facial recognition software. Green standards will make the city center one of the most sustainable in Australia. When it is completed in 2031, it will mark the emergence of one of the nation’s model cities.
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Top7 2015 | 2017 | 2018
Gold Coast (a 2008 Smart21) is a regional city, under a single Council, grouping beach towns along 60km of coastline. Once an agricultural economy, it became a tourist haven only to see visits fall following September 11, 2001. Since then, Gold Coast has executed against an ambitious development strategy. A Broadening Broadband project succeeded in extending ADSL service to 80% of the city while planning has begun to develop an open-access FTTP network. The Pacific Innovation Corridor program seeks to build globally competitive businesses throughout the city while the Gold Coast Innovation Center incubates technology start-ups. The Gold Coast Knowledge Precinct is being developed to create, attract and support knowledge-based businesses throughout a 200-hectare area surrounding Griffith University.
Located on Australia's eastern seaboard, Coffs Harbour is a tapestry of mountains, national parks, sandy beaches, quaint villages and marine reserves. Its natural bounty and busy regional airport have made it a highly desirable tourist and retirement destination. They have also granted Coffs Harbour less desirable gifts: a population that skews older than the Australian average and an economy dominated by healthcare, social assistance and seasonal accommodation, food services and retailing. As a result, the city has a markedly smaller proportion of high-income households and higher proportion of low-income households than the Australian average.
In 2009, the Council established a 2030 Strategic Plan, based on yearlong community consultation, to create a more vibrant future for this city on the sea. More than a decade earlier Nineties, Council made the decision to invest in a fiber-optic network to connect all governmental facilities. This proved persuasive to the national government, which named Coffs Harbour as one of 19 second-wave deployment zones for the National Broadband Network. Service to the first 2,600 homes was switched on in February of 2013.
To prepare Coffs Harbour for a broadband future, the community launched a Digital Enterprise program to train local businesses and institutions in digital technologies. It launched pilot programs in telemedicine, with a special focus on at-home care of seniors with chronic health issues. An Innovation Centre opened to provide office space, mentoring and incubation of new businesses, and the city focused on building working partnerships with its university and technical schools to engage students and graduates in local opportunity. It also launched art and cultural festivals that had the dual effect of strengthening the tourist economy while enriching quality of life. These steps are laying an impressive foundation for an economy that attracts and retains creative people and innovative organizations who will build a stronger future.
The third-largest city in the state of Victoria, Ballarat once was a mineral and agricultural boom town, but global market changes decimated its economy in the 1990s and drove unemployment to nearly 20%. In response, city government, community leaders and the state collaborated on a long-term economic development plan focusing on attracting ICT companies, leveraging higher education and fostering digital inclusion. Today, Ballarat has the largest technology park in Australia, home to 30 companies employing 1,400 people. Broadband penetration, at only 53% of homes, is poised to accelerate through early roll-out of Australia’s National Broadband Network. Local ICT champions, working with the city’s universities, have helped spawn a wave of startups and research institutes. The community has also invested in its at-risk youth and indigenous population with specialized training in skills and digital literacy to equip them for success in the new economy.
Armidale, with its population of 25,000, was the first mainland city in Australia to be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) and experience the impact of fiber speeds to the premise. That was an impressive achievement for a small city 200 km inland from Australia’s east coast, home to the Intelligent Communities of the Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. Getting to that point required substantial planning, lobbying and the creation of community-wide collaboration. In 2011, Armidale formed the Digital Economy Implementation Group with representatives from city, state and Federal governments, local technology firms, the local university and technical school, the chamber of commerce and community ambassadors. Through community education and facilitation, the group helped NBN achieve an 80% connection rate to commercial and residential properties.
NBN has allowed Armidale to build a business community that might be expected of a much larger and more central place. It includes WhiteHack, a network security company; RMTek, a cloud services provider to industrial and mining facilities; Quadrant Australia, developer of special interest group travel programs; and Enertek, which brokers green energy solutions. The local school system and university Smart Farm are enthusiast adopters as well, because of high-speed broadband’s ability to bring to Armidale the best of what the world has to offer.
Preparing for a Digital Future
City leaders are determined that NBN make a major contribution to the local economy and quality of life. The city established a Digital Hub providing hands-on access to technology as well as free technology courses, technical advice and digital literacy training. A complementary Digital Enterprise program focused on the small-to-medium enterprise sector with workshops and customized training. More than 6,000 people have received training at the Digital Hub, and Digital Enterprise sessions have attracted 700 local business people. One company benefiting from the technology focus is ICT International. With the city’s help, it won a grant for business expansion and development of a new water-measuring technology that can estimate the total amount of water available in a watershed. The company is now exporting to 45 countries.
Engaging the Community
Community engagement is fundamental to the city’s progress. A community-owned composting system called City to Soil has diverted 60% of municipal waste from the landfill and produces high-quality compost that is sold back to the community. Residential take-up is high enough, at 75%, that Armidale has introduced a commercial version of the service. The city is also engaged in development of a 20-year master plan and invites community participation through a communications program called CREATE 2350. The program posts potential development projects to its Web site and invites comment and suggestions from residents. One example is a proposed A$50 million Airport Precinct Master Plan, which is the subject of online exchange and meetings with Council at locations around Armidale.
By 2035, Armidale will have been a fiber-based community for 20 years, and will be the Australian test case for how small cities in rural locations can build dynamic economies while preserving the quality of life their people treasure.