New Zealand's smart cities efforts shortlisted for Asia-Pacific awards (yet again)

While New Zealand may be considered a small country, its smart cities ambitions are anything but small. For two consecutive years New Zealand (and Singapore) swept up more recognitions for their smart cities initiatives than any others in the annual Smart City Asia Pacific Awards (SCAPA), a competitive benchmarking program conducted by Council Associate Partner IDC. Read the story below to learn why that accomplishment could be repeated yet again in 2018. — Doug Peeples


Consider the odds. There have been more than 180 projects entered in IDC Asia-Pacific's 2018 smart cities competition. And consistent with its cities' performances in previous years, three New Zealand smart cities projects have been again selected as finalists.

For IDC New Zealand Associate Market Analyst Jefferson King, that outcome is no small matter. "For a country the size of New Zealand to have three projects that stand out on the regional stage is a fantastic achievement. New Zealand has consistently punched above its weight in the four years these awards have been running.

"This year there were over 180 entries and for New Zealand to successfully compete against the likes of Seoul or Singapore and be shortlisted as a finalist, is testament to New Zealand's forward-thinking public sector. It also highlights the ability of New Zealand's local government bodies to work with vendors to leverage technology for the good of the public."

New Zealand was recognized for projects in four areas in 2017: public works, smart grid, connected health and tourism, arts, libraries, culture and open spaces. Below are summaries of the 2018 entries:

Safeswim, a creation of the Auckland Council and Watercare in partnership with Surf Life Saving Northern Region. Using predictive models and data from wastewater and storm water networks, the program provides forecasts of water quality for 92 Auckland area swimming locations—as well as information on hazards such as dangerous wave and wind conditions, dangerous marine life in the area and rip currents.

Upsouth, a platform developed by the Auckland Council to encourage participation by young people in South Auckland who don't usually get involved in public meetings or other civic activities. So far, a major benefit has been increasingly diversified contributions and opinions on local government and business matters from people who ordinarily wouldn't be heard from. As an incentive, they earn micropayments for their participation.

Antenno, a mobile app intended to improve local government departmental communications with the public. Produced by New Zealand IT services company Datacom, departments can provide notices and alerts on a broad range of topics, including public safety, council services, public infrastructure and more. The app also is a venue for citizens to provide feedback which makes it a conduit for improved engagement and communications between local government and citizens and a way to increase citizen awareness of local events and issues.

SCAPA winners are expected to be announced in August.

Doug Peeples is a writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartcitiesanz on Twitter.