In about 48 hours I will be boarding a plane to Barcelona, to again take part in the world’s largest smart cities gathering – the Smart City Expo World Congress.
It’s an important event on the calendar for SCC, as all our Executive Directors from the four regions gather to spend time with many of our partners who typically participate in the massive exhibit hall activities. Whilst the setting is Barcelona, it’s all business, pretty much.
But this year is different, as I will be part of a 30-person strong Austrade delegation that will be spending the week consuming all the world has to offer on smart city technology and data platforms. Additionally, the Austrade itinerary has us moving around the city for various meet-ups, briefings and receptions.
And what a different showing compared to last year, I must say, when about five Australians made their own way to BCN to geek out on the newest tech, to network with global peers and consume the conference streams. But whilst last years’ experience was a buzz, I am quietly excited about sharing this year’s event with my fellow peers on the delegation.
And this opportunity is a sign of Australia’s smart cities market maturity, which has advanced in spades just in the past 12 months.
This time last year we did not have Austrade as a major ecosystem stakeholder for smart cities. But hasn’t that changed! They are now the custodian of some of the best smart cities market research I have ever seen; they are connecting local sustainability start-ups with global tech companies and accelerating the pace at which smart cities business opportunities are being realised for our local companies.
This time last year the Australian Government was scoping the idea of funding $50 million of smart cities tech for local government and the supply-side, to now being neck-deep in more than 170 applications for smart cities investments from partnerships that have formed all over the country.
This time last year the Internet of Things Alliance Australia was pretty much the sole voice on smart cities standards, to now having Australia’s peak standards making body (Standards Australia) taking the lead on convening government and industry on the subject with a view to creating a national roadmap.
This time last year not one single local government organisation had participated in our Smart Cities Readiness Workshop training. In fact we did not even offer them, as we believed the interest would not come until 2018. Less than a year later, more than 50 local authorities have participated in our readiness program in some way.
Australia is showing up in a big way. Just last week the City of Adelaide (along with Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast) were announced as finalists in the ICF global Smart21. Further demonstration of our local smart cities leadership capacity. On the announcement, Adelaide Mayor Martin Haese said “It is always reassuring to be able to benchmark our Strategic Plan smart city projects against global cities that are in many ways our competitors.”
And we have just started.
As Catherine Caruana-McManus of Meshed recently told a room of smart cities executives in Melbourne, "We are getting closer to a place where Australia is no longer a 'taker' of smart cities technology, but a creator and a leader in the areas of smart cities. Working towards this goal is critical to ensure Australia maintains a strong competitive advantage in the years to come."
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