SMART CITIES

The Future Cities Collaborative is pleased to be working with Smart Cities all over the world. We hope that we can provoke thinking, discussions, and actions to create more Smart Cities right here in Australia. 

Smart Cities

Smart Cities in Sydney

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, “liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity.” But how do 21st Century cities become liveable, vibrant and productive? How can our urban centres live up to their full potential as economic assets and leverage the vast wealth of human capital within them? These questions and concepts are not new to Americans, as over the past six years, the Obama Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and working with open data, to strengthening community services through technology and running local government more efficiently. New advances in technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts and create the liveable, vibrant, and prosperous cities that are so crucial to national economies and the people who call these Smart Cities home, and Australia has much to learn from our trans-Pacific partners.

The Future Cities Collaborative was pleased to welcome John Tolva to Sydney in November to discuss smart cities, data, technology, and how city leaders can utilise these new approaches and technologies in order to make our cities easier to use and better places to live. John’s career has focused on developing and applying technology to improve the urban environment. From 2011 to 2013 he was Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, leveraging technology to streamline public services through more efficient data-sharing, digital communications, and next-generation infrastructure. He led the development of ‘The City of Chicago Technology Plan’, an initiative that sets forth a series of public-private strategies to accelerate economic growth, build educated and digitally-engaged communities and workforce, improve government services, and reduce costs through technology.

John Tolva

John Tolva presenting at the Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit. Credit: Jason Kirk Photography

Joining John in Sydney, and demonstrating that city leaders are employing smart city initiatives the world over, was Frans-Anton Vermast, strategy advisor at Amsterdam Smart City. Since the advent of the Amsterdam Fibre from Home Initiative, Frans-Anton Vermast has been involved as a European public and government affairs advisor. His immense knowledge and expertise on Open Access Communication Infrastructure and its services is highly sought-after by local governments globally. Frans has also been the Senior Strategy Advisor for Low Carbon and Connected Urban Planning at Amsterdam Smart City since 2008. He is an expert in searching for the opportunities for new appliances and services that make cities a more habitable place for their citizens to live, work and play. Furthermore, he specialises in developing Smart Cities as open and user centric platforms as well as holistic and cross silo approaches through collaborative bottom up approaches and citizens engagement. Apart from best and next practises Frans is not afraid to share worst practises and lessons learned to prevent other cities making the same mistakes.

Whilst in Sydney as guests of the Future Cities Collaborative, John and Frans-Anton met with the NSW Government Department of Innovation, Waverley Council, Newcastle City Council, participated in a public lecture on smart cities, and both delivered a keynote at the Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit.

The Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit was held on Tuesday 10 November and featured both John and Frans-Anton who spoke about how Council should explore leading-edge technologies and innovations that can be incorporated in Parramatta’s future planning. Parramatta City Council is partnering with Future Cities Collaborative to present the Summit, and showcase the work of Parramatta City Council in this space.

“The Summit is designed to spark discussion about how Parramatta can transform into a globally recognised Smart City where clever design and innovation become part of the fabric of our community,” Lord Mayor of Parramatta Cr Paul Garrard said. “It’s about fostering an environment of collaboration where we can work together to uncover solutions to improve the City’s liveability and to encourage investment into the region.”

Future Cities Collaborative Smart Cities

John Tolva; Cr Paul Garrard, Lord Mayor of Parramatta; and Frans-Anton Vermast. Credit: Jason Kirk Photography 

John Tolva and Frans-Anton Vermast participated in a panel discussion with Baxter Asia Pacific Information Technology Director Marise Hannaford and ParraConnect Chairman Cr Steven Issa, led by Future Cities Collaborative Founder and Chair Professor Ed Blakely.

Parramatta Councillor Steven Issa, who is chairman of the ParraConnect Committee that has been driving a number of smart city projects, said now is the time for Parramatta to plan for a digital future and ensure high-tech initiatives are incorporated in new developments across the City. “The summit is an important step in our Council’s journey to becoming a Smart City. It is about working collaboratively to solve our City’s ongoing challenges, to make the city more liveable and shape our future identity,” Cr Issa said.

Parramatta City Council adopted a Smart City Masterplan in August this year and appointed a Strategic Smart City Officer to guide the integration of leading-edge technologies and planning across the City, including major urban renewal projects such as the $2 billion Parramatta Square development.

The Future Cities Collaborative also presented a public lecture on smart cities, with John and Frans-Anton as our guest speakers. The Tale of Two Smart Cities was held at The State Library of NSW on the evening on Tuesday 10 November as was well attended by over 100 representatives from local and state government, industry and peak bodies, students, academics, and interested members from the general public. At the event, supported by AECOM, John and Frans-Anton spoke of the experiences of both Chicago and Amsterdam in becoming smart cities. They shared lessons on how to make it work from a governance point of view, outlined what is important in smart city initiatives, and also shared some of the mistakes their cities have made along the way. Overall, the night was a story about using and combining people, technology, and data to make user-friendly, loveable, liveable places for a community to live, work, invest, and play. We were also fortunate to have students from the University of NSW present an exhibition of their work prior to the event on global smart cities, showcasing that the new generation of planners are thinking critically about what a smart city looks like, and how it can be achieved. 

ToTC

Professor Blakely and one of UNSW's students. 

Frans-Anton's key message to attendees was that technology, data, citizen engagement and agility are key to the success of Amsterdam Smart City. Amsterdam Smart City is a non-government organisation tasked with driving the uptake of smart city and low carbon initiaitves in Amsterdam. They foster innovation in all sections, facilitate engagement with disruptive technologies, promote efficient and effective government services, and act as an advocacy group for open-data, open-government principles. Frans-Anton spoke about Amsterdam being a "living lab" where innovative solutions to problems are trialed, tested, and tweaked in real-time and with real citizen and user engagement. Frans-Anton challenged Australian city leaders to do everything with an open source, open platform, and open data mindset and put the citizen and user experience of a city first. He said that the best cities in the world are the ones that are easiest to use - from apps for tourists, open government data, wifi, low carbon electricity, interactive and real-time transport information to simple government-citizen interfaces - and has high hopes as Sydney continues on the journey towards becoming a truly smart city. 

Director of the Future Cities Collaborative, Sandy Burgoyne, during the opening session. 

John Tolva's presentation spoke about how Chicago had transitioned from The Clockwork City to The Open City and now to The Emergent City. The Clockwork City is where city government uses technology not for innovative solutions but just for increased efficiency - so a transport system doesn't work any better just because the timetable is available online. The Clockwork City forgets that increased efficiencies and use of technology is not helpful at all if people are omitted from the equation. The Open City throws their data open in read-only formats - so people can see the bus timetable and can also see real-time information on where the bus is. The Open City builds trust through transparency, is accountable, and creates an economy of businesses that use the open data to create apps for the citizens to use. People can use the data and the systems of government are improved, but this is not the end-point of Chicago's smart city journey. The Emergent City, where Chicago now finds itself, allows citizens to manipulate and improve government data and services - so through technology and apps, any vechicle can become a bus because it knows where people are and where they want to go. So many objects in a city are internet-enabled, so they should be able to communicate and relay information back to the user of the city - the people. The Internet of Things has become the Array of Things so our cities can become smart, connected, and a living lab combining people, data, and technology. 

ToTC

Our pannelists: John Tolva, Frans-Anton Vermast, Paul Budde, and Professor Ed Blakely. 

John and Frans-Anton both joined Professor Blakely and Paul Budde, an Australian data and communication expert, for a pannel discussion focusing on how the initiatives from Amsterdam and Chicago may be implemented in Australia. They discussed governance structures, the risk-adversity of government, the question of who pays, and took questions and debated with the audience. All in attendence agreed that the event stimulated discussion on how cities can be innovative, responsive to new technologies, how governments can utilise open data, and how city leaders in Australia and Sydney can create world-leading smart cities by following the examples of Chicago and Amsterdam. You can listen to a podcast of the event here. 

In addition to the The Tale of Two Smart Cities Event and Parramatta Smart City Summit, John and Frans-Anton met with representatives from NSW Government Department of Innovation to discuss their experiences with open data. The conversation was extremely productive, as many of the issues the NSW Government is facing in the open data, open government space have already been addressed and overcome by Chicago and Amsterdam. The Future Cities Collaborative was also able to arrange for John Tolva to meet with NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, The Hon. Victor Dominello MP to discuss smart city and innovation strategies and their applicability to NSW.

Frans-Anton Vermast

Frans-Anton presenting at the Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit. Credit: Jason Kirk Photography

Frans-Anton Vermast also met with Waverley Council and Newcastle City Council whilst in Sydney. With Waverley, Frans-Anton discussed implementing green infrastructure in Bondi Junction as Amsterdam takes a sustainable approach to implementing new technology so their smart city initiatives are also low-carbon and green initiatives. In Newcastle, Frans-Anton was able to offer insights in regards to governance structures for local-government led smart city initiatives, as Newcastle City Council are fast moving towards the establishment of a similar organisation to Amsterdam Smart City and looked to Frans-Anton for advice on how these programs can be best planned, structured, and implemented. 

These meetings, and the Tale of Two Smart Cities event and Parramatta City Council Smart City Summit, served to expand the Future Cities Collaborative into the smart city space and forge connections and contacts we hope we can build upon. Sustainability, productivity, and technology are issues that will be crucial to cities for a long time to come, so we look forward to working with all the Future Cities Collaborative members to help them combine people, data, and technology in order to make their cities smart.

NB: Frans-Anton Vermast will again be in Sydney in April 2016 and we look forward to announcing more information about his visit early in 2016.

VIDEOS:

Former chief technology officer of the City of Chicago John Tolva shares his insights into what makes a city smart - filmed at the United States Studies Centre in conversation with Professor Ed Blakely. 

Strategy advisor to Amsterdam Smart City, Frans-Anton Vermast offers his views on what makes a city smart - filmed at the United States Studies Centre in conversation with Professor Ed Blakely.

 

EVENTS:

Smart Cities Summit Parramatta

Professor Edward Blakely, Chair of the Future Cities Collaborative, and Councillor Paul Garrard, Lord Mayor of Parramatta City Council, are hosting the inaugural Smart Cities Summit, to be held at Deloitte Parramatta on Tuesday 10 November 2015.

The Smart Cities Summit, presented by the Future Cities Collaborative, an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and Parramatta City Council, will provide a forum for city leaders in New South Wales to explore the opportunities and challenges in creating Smart Cities.

Two international experts in creating and sustaining Smart Cities – Frans-Anton Vermast and John Tolva, will join the summit and lead the panel discussions.

VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Frans-Anton Vermast is the Senior Strategy Advisor for Amsterdam Smart City. He is an expert in searching for opportunities to make cities more habitable for their citizens to live, work and play. Frans-Anton specialises in developing open and user-centric Smart Cities by utilising holistic and collaborative bottom-up approaches to cross-silo and citizen engagement.

John Tolva is focused on developing and applying technology to improve the urban environment. He is the former Chief Technology Officer of the City of Chicago, and led the development of ‘The City of Chicago Technology Plan’, an initiative that set forth a series of public-private strategies to accelerate economic growth, build educated and digitally-engaged communities and workforce, improve government services, and reduce costs through technology.

The Tale of Two Smart Cities: People, Data, Technology, and How to Make Cities Smart

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says, “liveable, vibrant cities are absolutely critical to our prosperity.” But how do 21st Century cities become liveable, vibrant and productive? How can our urban centres live up to their full potential as economic assets and leverage the vast wealth of human capital within them? These questions and concepts are not new to Americans, as over the past six years, the Obama Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and working with open data, to strengthening community services through technology and running local government more efficiently. New advances in technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts and create the liveable, vibrant, and prosperous cities that are so crucial to national economies, and the people who call these Smart Cities home, and Australia has much to learn from our trans-Pacific partners.

Join the Future Cities Collaborative for a public event to discuss Smart Cities, and hear lessons from two global leaders in this field. We are very pleased to have John Tolva, former Chief Technology Officer from the City of Chicago, and Frans-Anton Vermast, Senior Stategy Advisor from Amsterdam, in Sydney to share their experiences and lessons in creating and sustaining Smart Cities.

At a time when cities are back on the national agenda, and with the Obama Administration committing $160 million to a new Smart Cities Initiative, there has never been a better time to think about how to make our cities smarter.


 

INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS:

FransFrans Anton Vermast

Since the advent of the Amsterdam Fibre from Home Initiative, Frans-Anton Vermast has been involved as a European public and government affairs advisor (including regulatory issues).

His immense knowledge and expertise on Open Access Communication Infrastructure and its services is highly sought-after by local governments globally. Mr Vermast is also the Senior Strategy Advisor for Low Carbon and Connected Urban Planning at Amsterdam Smart City since 2008. He is an expert in searching for the opportunities of novel appliances and services that make cities a more habitable place for it’s citizens where it is pleasant to live, work and play.

Furthermore, he specialises in developing Smart Cities as open and user centric platforms as well as holistic and cross silo approaches through collaborative bottom up approaches and citizens engagement. Apart from best and next practises Mr Vermast is not afraid to share worst practises and lessons learned to prevent other cities making the same mistakes.

His objective for working in projects like Smart Work, Smart Grids, Smart Living, Smart City and Electrical Vehicles is to create a more sustainable and liveable environment and boost social and economic benefits that will result in more happy citizens.

From this role Mr Vermast is active in several roles within City Protocol: member of Board of Directors, thematic Area Director Society and Director Public Affairs.

Mr Vermast has extensive Dutch, European and global experience in facilitating the participation of local governments, municipalities and communities in these initiatives.

He is a visiting speaker at Leiden University and guest lecturer at HAN University of Applied Sciences. He also has a great global training experience both professional and as volunteer for the Liberals.

JohnJohn Tolva

John Tolva is the president of PositivEnergy Practice, an urban systems engineering firm based on data-driven decision-making for sustainable new building design, retrofits, and urban master planning.

John’s career has focused on developing and applying technology to improve the urban environment. From 2011 to 2013 he was Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, leveraging technology to streamline public services through more efficient data-sharing, digital communications, and next-generation infrastructure. He led the development of ‘The City of Chicago Technology Plan’, an initiative that sets forth a series of public-private strategies to accelerate economic growth, build educated and digitally-engaged communities and workforce, improve government services, and reduce costs through technology.

In 2012, the White House recognized John as a ‘Champion of Change’ as part of a group of creative individuals engaged in building stronger communities through innovative approaches to problem-solving.

Prior to joining the City, he was Director of Citizenship and Technology at IBM Corp, where he worked on the firm’s ‘smarter cities’ initiative, advising cities how to incorporate data analytics into planning and operations. John led the City Forward project, the first global aggregator and visualizer of urban data sets. In 2006 he was honored as one of ’40 Under 40’ in the business community by Crain’s Chicago Business.

 


IN THE MEDIA:

The Future Cities Collaborative Smart Cities Project is an exciting initiative that is only growing bigger. Here we share some of the media generated by, about, and for Smart Cities - both in Australia, the USA, and across the globe. If you wish to contribute, Contact Us. 

 

 

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