ACT Chief says Smart Cities the next big thing

By Lelde Smits. Published at May 12, 2016, in Question and Answer

The ACT Government’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr tells The Capital Network’s Lelde Smits about the Smart City revolution and how the public will be impacted by technological changes.

Watch the video here or read the interview below.

The Capital Network: Hello I’m Lelde Smits for The Capital Network and joining me in the nation’s capital, Canberra, is the ACT Government’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Mr Barr welcome and thank you for your time.

Andrew Barr: Thank you, great to be here.

The Capital Network: Now we’re hearing so much about ‘Smart Cities’. Can you explain what they are and also what does a city do to become smart?

Andrew Barr: Well I think Smart Cities are ones that are adapting to new technology, wanting to look at new and innovative solutions to municipal service delivery challenges. So, it generally involves utilisation of new technology, but working closely with local communities in order to see deep engagement with those new technologies.

The Capital Network: Could you explain some of the things that Canberra is doing to really become a Smart City?

Andrew Barr: We’re starting with a premise of 100 per cent renewable energy to power our city, and then looking to have Australia’s largest free public Wi-Fi network as a backbone really for the delivery of a range of services.

So Smart Parking Limited (ASX:SPZ) is one example where utilising that Wi-Fi network we can have a project like we’ve got here in Manuka, a busy business precinct, we can provide real time information to drivers to allow them to get to a car park. It removes that big hassle of driving around seemingly endlessly.

But, there are so many applications off a Wi-Fi network such as we have. But it’s important to be able to find practical, tangible outcomes that are easily delivered in order to demonstrate the benefits of this sort of technology.

The Capital Network: Absolutely well that’s certainly a lot of initiatives there. Are there any challenges in becoming a Smart City and what are you doing to tackle that?

Andrew Barr: One of the big challenges is to ensure that you bring the community with you. There’s no point rolling out technology to people who aren’t ready for it or who aren’t educated in its use. We’re lucky here in Canberra to be early adapters to new technology, to have a city that has a real appetite for it, but that wouldn’t be the case necessarily everywhere. So, I think an important lesson is to engage the community early about the possibilities but also be prepared to take a risk or two in rolling out new technology and a bit of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t, and I’m sure we’ll find that in this trial over the next 12 months.

The Capital Network: Well you’ve certainly made some good process, thank you for the update on Smart Cities, Mr Barr.

Andrew Barr:
My pleasure, thank you.

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