SCCANZ in Action: Resilience in the smart city?

Last Monday I was in Cairns, leading a Smart Cities Readiness Masterclass with the Council’s executive leadership team. As we were neck deep in navigating the 17 universal principles of smart cities, buses full of evacuees from Bowen and Ayer were making their way to Cairns. They were seeking refuge from Tropical Cyclone Debbie which was due to make landfall the following morning.

Fast forward a week, and the path of destruction left by Debbie – from Townsville in the far north (QLD) to Lismore in the south (NSW) – has left many battered and bruised. And for some communities, like Logan City, it’s the biggest natural disaster to ever hit the city. And there’s still some sting left in Debbie’s tail, with Rockhampton about to experience some flooding over the next 48 hours, the water that fell a week ago, finally making its way down the catchment.

But as we commonly see in Australia, our resilience to natural disasters is high. Bouncing forward on the back of our strong spirit, and community cohesion, almost immediately, is our signature response. The ‘Mud Army’ – a description given to the masses of volunteers who rallied in the wake of the Brisbane 2011 floods – is back again, and this time in Logan doing what they do best, which is to bring support, spirit, and compassion.

The smart city is a resilient one. It acknowledges the disruption and disturbance that comes from a variety of shocks and stresses, whether they be social, technological, environmental, economic, or political. Leadership and governance plays a significant role in building resilience, along with robust stakeholder networks, shared ownership and responsibility for action, and a capacity to endure.

Earlier this year the Smart Cities Council awarded the City of Miami, Florida, a Smart Cities Challenge Grant, which will explore the city’s smart cities opportunities in the context of their resilience plan and a newly developed citizen engagement plan. The intersections of the smart city, resilient city, and sharable city is an interesting place. And one that is not explored enough. What we do know, is that community engagement is key, and at the heart of a connected, thriving city.

There is much more to come on this topic from SCCANZ. But for now, join us in wishing the communities of Queensland and Northern New South Wales a speedy recovery.