Meet the lead of Hamilton City Council’s Smart Cities Program

Wed, 2020-03-11 14:33 -- Adam Beck

What is keeping Chelsey Stewart excited about the future of smart cities? We sat down with Hamilton City Council’s Smart Hamilton Programme Manager after the 2020 TechFest event to answer that question.

The Smart Space launched by Hamilton City Council last year is the place where Council, the community, academia, social agencies and businesses come together to support innovation that’s good for the community. How is it all going?

It’s been fantastic and is only going to get better. The diversity of visitors to the Space has been really broad and we have had great feedback from both the community, and our internal staff. The most common feedback we get from staff is how rewarding it is to have their innovation showcased and how helpful it is to have such a direct line to what the community thinks. And from the community’s perspective – they have been blown away by the level of innovation being developed in the region, and how eager the Council is to get the community involved in helping define and tackle their challenges with them.

We then asked Chelsey what her most exciting initiative has been, and why?

She paused to decide which one she felt most passionate about, among the many! “There’s so much going on here, especially in transport and sustainable energies. But maybe at the moment (and because they’re not typical ‘smart city’ projects) the ethical procurement project we are in the early stages of developing, or the Waikato Wellbeing Project that’s being led across the region?” “Both are passion projects for me.” she said.

“With respect to ethical investment, we are really trying to support entities that take care of our people and most vulnerable communities. We are reviewing our procurement policies and processes to take a more strategic view as to what systems, criteria and partnerships we can create to give back to the community. HCC sees supporting local social enterprise and ethical service delivery practices as a smart investment in the wellbeing of our communities. I love that this project is innovation in a non-technical sense.”

And finally, we asked Chelsey what she learned at TechFest 2020?

“Well, I was reminded there is no clear definition of innovation and how we drive it,” she said. “However, the convergence of organisational culture and mindset seems to be increasingly at the heart of it. This TechFest I was involved in a lot of conversation about who we need to have in our teams to be the best – and they’ve not been about specific tech or data skills – rather, what are the mix of personalities, behaviour’s, mindset’s and curiosity that will help fuel that innovation?.

She also was intrigued by the continued reference to greater collaboration – something we all talk about till we are blue in the face, yet rarely deeply commit to it. “We need to just start doing it - find the meaning in the word again,” Chelsey quipped.

And finally, the link between risk and innovation was made even clearer, with full acknowledgement that we do need to take calculated risks, whilst being mindful to the benefit of failing as well. “Somewhere between being brave but before reckless, is the sweetspot, and those are the lanes we need to stay in,” she said.

 

Check out the work behind the Smart Hamilton program here: https://www.smarthamilton.co.nz/