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Building Smart Communities: at Open State 2017

Building Smart Communities: at Open State 2017

Active Citizenship

We loved being part of Open State 2017. Thank you to all those who participated in the Building Smart Communities workshop, it was such a great event, with an inspiring panel discussion and great ideas coming out of the event.

We’d like to thank the Smart Cities Council ANZ for partnering with engage2 to deliver this event. This event could not have been possible without the support from the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet and LGA South Australia. Thank you also to our speakers Adam BeckRebecca RumbulAmelia LoyeNigel Morris and Gail Fairlamb and facilitator Don Sharples.

Here are some of the themes discussed and tips shared during the workshop.

Themes & Tips


Inclusion is an essential element of smart communities. This is not just about accessibility it is about making sure anyone who wants to participate can do so and getting a broad representation of people involved in your process. This is especially concerning given the increasing use of technology to serve and govern.

So how do you gain feedback from those in the community not used to the technology? Click To Tweet

TIP: Engage with people in the places where your community meet to reach more people in your process. Use technology when serving and engaging community offline as well as online, for example at the library and customer service centre or when engaging people at the markets or shopping centres.  This can help to raise digital literacy.

Data can help you understand community 

Data about your community is already available in a variety of places, that can help you understand what your community needs and what they care about. This data helps you understand how to engage more effectively and whether your services are working. Respect privacy and leverage the tools and resources available to serve your community effectively. Use the “inclusion index” to understand the proportion of the community that have accessibility and affordability to technology.

TIP: Be transparent about the data you use and how, and get consent to use it. Track behavioural patterns and community satisfaction with services.

Defining smart communities

In Adam Beck’s definition of smart communities, he talked about the integration of technology, data and design. Amelia Loye built on that by saying that it is also about also leveraging the resources within the community.

At engage2, we think that a smart community is engaged and is participating in the community and the way it is governed. Smart communities are about more than just improving efficiencies of government, it is a people-centric, smart, responsive, sustainable and resilient community. The resources and skill of the community are leveraged to achieve positive social, economic and environmental outcomes, and active citizenship is encouraged and recognised by government.

Building smart communities requires influencing strategy

Smart city plans and initiatives need to be integrated with your overall strategies and planning processes at your council. This includes everything from your corporate plan to all planning instruments. A diversity of factors including sustainability, environment and social factors must be considered to be truly smart community.

TIP: Strategies should be aligned; a digital strategy should never stand alone.

Build Public-Private partnerships

Smart communities are built on public and private partnerships.

TIP: Look outside government to community and civic tech organisations. Consider the market, as well as the community, and how to work with them effectively.

Look outside of government, at the community

There are people and organisations in your community who want to contribute. They are already engaged and have skills and resources to contribute. For example by opening data you are giving them the opportunity to create products with that can help service your community.

TIP: Look for people and organisations within your communities to work with.

We would also like to thank all those who shared their thoughts on Twitter throughout the event, a collection of this activity can be found on Storify here.

If you’d like to hear more about engage2’s smart communities service please contact Amelia@engage2.com.au. You may also be interested in the event below:


Thank you all for supporting our communities.

Amelia Loye

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