Smart leadership, smart cities, bright future

Blog by Michael Whereat, ASCA President

This week’s version of the ASCA enews is dropping into your inbox just hours before the formal two-day conference officially kicks off in the host city of Adelaide, South Australia. We are extremely pleased to have sold out almost every event on the program. With more than 350 delegates registered for conference events, we have exceeded every target and projection.

What we are experiencing here is truly amazing. In addition to the formally announced events, ASCA has been working to support strategic initiatives which are adding value to the conference program in ways that underscore why an organisation like ASCA exists in the first place.  

I would like to tell you about three of these.

The first was a gathering of five local governments to discuss how their respective locations may collaborate around the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Funding Program – due to close on 30 June. It's not unusual for our cities to collaborate but normally it is not geographically spread. The group included representation from four states and territories - all are in a dialogue as a result of the wider ASCA membership. Who they are and what their decisions are is not for publication, but the fact that this level of cooperation is occurring shows we're achieving our goal to create a network of smart communities across Australia.

The second was the gathering of the ASCA partners led by Piers Hogarth-Scott from KPMG. This gathering of some 20 representatives of our business and industry, research and development and innovation organisations reinforces ASCA's decision to broaden its structure to incorporate these groups into a strong coalition/ecosystem of partners to support our demand side - the core local government members. Personally, participating in this meeting and seeing the passion and commitment to achieve a strong competitive environment to deliver quality outcomes in the dynamic Australian market was truly rewarding. You can see the list of ASCA partners and the three Working Groups on our website, but if you really want to understand the benefits, join in and actively participate.

Finally, the most significant event was hosted by the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Martin Haese. Earlier this year, ASCA proposed a Meeting of Mayors to be hosted by Adelaide. Like all good ideas, the simple event has grown to include a Chief Minister together with 13 local government Mayors from across Australia. With the support of the Lord Mayor, the meeting was expanded to align to our wider ecosystem. The involvement of our international partners from Germany and the Netherlands by representatives of their delegations broadened the discussion and the opportunities. Minister Angus Taylor was represented by senior department reps and partners Austrade and the Digital Transformation Agency.

Against a backdrop of increasing change, security threats from the Internet of Things and impact of digital disruption, this gathering showed why it's so important to respond at a level where we can be agile and proactive. Internationally, leading smart cities and communities also actively collaborate with other like-minded locations without concern for national borders. This meeting did the same but also at a collaborative level and served its purpose well. The Lord Mayor facilitated the first meeting of Mayors for ASCA and established the critical need to harness the leadership, skills and talents of all in the room.

So, even before the ASCA conference starts, my key takeaway is that ASCA has indeed established itself as an important part of the Australian smart cities space, not just because of the sell-out numbers but because our membership and partnership ecosystem just works.

In only two days the conference will formally come to a close and I will take the opportunity to open the five-week bidding window for the next ASCA Conference. I hope we can create an equally fruitful and rewarding event next year. Adelaide and the South Australian Government have certainly set the bar very high. We have to also thank our naming rights sponsor, Telstra, together with the Australian Government and platinum sponsors KPMG and Cisco - great partnerships we hope to continue.

With such great examples of smart leadership and smart cities, we can have great confidence that we have a bright future here in Australia.

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