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Why it makes sense for cities to work together

Submitted by doug.peeples on May 23, 2017

Focusing on proof of concept, leveraging funding, and advancing inter-agency collaboration were but some of the successful approaches employed as part of this national smart cities program in New Zealand. Engagement with stakeholders was considered an early constraint, but built momentum on an ongoing basis resulted in good communications that served to inform many sectors. This was one of many important reflections from the program implementation process, with the longer-term sustainability of this national program still uncertain.

This is a timely evaluation report, particularly as the Australian Government embarks on its $50M Smart Cities and Suburbs program. — Adam Beck

The concept of cities collaborating and sharing information on their smart city initiatives intuitively sounds like a good idea, but a recently concluded programme led by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) found five key benefits for doing it.

LINZ, the country's public service agency in charge of geographical information and managing government property, worked with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in a Smart Cities Programme and provided financial support for a variety of smart city initiatives with Better Public Services funds.

The programme's overall intent was to determine if the central government should collaborate with local councils and private companies on real-time monitoring and sensor technologies, such as those that would be used to measure and track pedestrian and traffic flow and air and water quality.

The answer was, not surprisingly, a resounding "yes." According to a LINZ announcement, the primary benefits the programme identified are:

  • more available data to help develop policies and enhance planning and decision-making at local, regional and national levels
  • more resilience in how collaborators plan, pay for and manage city assets with better maintenance planning and a better understanding of how assets should be used
  • greater ability to attract international companies to New Zealand's cities to develop and test new technologies
  • new business and employment opportunities by encouraging existing companies and startups to take advantage of data and sensor technologies
  • collaboration as a multi-city strategy to ensure initiatives maintain their momentum as well as to resolve challenges and problems

As part of the programme, an Evaluation Hub was created to provide a way collaborating cities could share their experiences and findings with each other in real-time.

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