SCP E54 Cybersecurity in the Smart City, with Vaughan Emery


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had a really interesting chat with Vaughan Emery. Vaughan is the Founder and CEO of Atonomi, a company focused on security protocol for the internet of things. We talk a lot about the importance of cybersecurity as we get more connected, and how they’re using the Ethereum blockchain to do their business. We also have some really interesting conversation about the future of cryptocurrencies. I learnt so much talking to Vaughan so I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen Here:

What we covered:

  • Vaughan’s background and his passion for cyber security
  • What sparked his interest in the Smart City space and how his company began
  • What a Smart City means to him and why it’s so important
  • How the US is embracing the Smart City concept, cybersecurity and blockchain
  • Projects Vaughan and Atonomi is working on
  • How autonomous vehicles might become less about transport and more of a platform
  • How connected vehicles can be a security risk and ways that can be isolated or prevented
  • The importance of identity, trust and reputation in a cyber secure future
  • How Atonomi’s products sit on the Ethereum block chain
  • The opportunities and challenges of innovation, regulation and integrating across different disciplines
  • Vaughan’s thoughts about the future of cryptocurrencies


“[I’ve been] Really thinking about cybersecurity and the impact that it has on a rapidly connecting world.”

“As a [cyber security] industry, we don’t have that good a grade. There’s constant data breaches. Most people have been affected by or are fearful of cyber security…So what I do day to day is work on technologies that protect data and protect things.”

“In Smart Cities you have a heterogenous environment, lots and lots of suppliers to cities. Those devices must work together and the only way they can work together is they’re known and trusted.”

“To me a Smart City is taking what the industry has developed as a static city — not a lot of connectivity — to a future state where a lot of the infrastructure and services are actually connected.”

“Statistics has shown that every city has had some form of cyber security attack or data breach. No city and no individual is immune. Before cities really go all in on connecting their infrastructure, the industry has got to figure out how to address the cyber security risk.”

“We think about risks in the context of sensors or devices having to be known and trusted, whether it’s in an autonomous vehicle or in an industrial setting, or it’s a sensor in a city. Good cybersecurity begins with identity and the idea that every device can be known and trusted.”

“I think it’s going to take the government’s input to make sure that all players are using the same protocols, the same standards.”

“For me, what people aren’t really talking about when it comes to crypto is the real utility and the value of moving towards currencies that are borderless, immune from politics and that really can serve a role in a lot of applications.”

“I’d like to see more conversation about how cryptocurrencies can really make it more secure, more efficient, more convenient in a machine economy.”


You can find out more about Aonomi and their website, connect via Twitter @vaughanemery or @atonomi or Telegram

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E53: Using technology to empower people to solve real problems, with Alvaro Maz


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had a great conversation with Alvaro Maz from Code for Australia. This episode isn’t about coding, it’s about using technology to empower people to solve real problems, which is a concept that I love. We discuss a lot of things including the changing ways of work and the importance of creating exciting and interesting projects to attract the talent that you want and need in order to keep moving forward. Alvaro and I also talk about about solving some of those boring inefficiencies that happen in Government and organisations, which you know I’m so passionate about. So as always I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover:

  • Alvaro’s background in international relations, philosophy and urban planning and what sparked his interest in this space.
  • Why he’s passionate about opening up opportunities for people to use their talent on things that matter
  • What he thinks a Smart City is and why it’s so important
  • Some of the gaps in how Australia is embracing the Smart City concept
  • Alvaro’s work with Code for Australia and the other projects he’s working on
  • The importance of creating interesting opportunities in order to better integrate across different disciplines and government sectors, and why it’s not always about the money
  • The changing world of work and why future generations are going to laugh at the fact that we have ongoing full time jobs
  • How regulations, work and democracy needs to evolve
  • The emerging trend that people aren’t talking about enough of there being too many trends, too much talking and not enough doing!
  • The importance of solving the boring but important problems, inefficient processes and things that impact many people if they fail and why we need to prioritise this over sexy new tech


“There’s a lot of talent and experience that is not being used at the moment because of the way that we’ve constructed our society…I try to open up opportunities for people to use their talent on things that matter.”

“There’s a lot of buzz words that you can apply to [Smart Cities]…but ultimately it’s a city that is inclusive, that is sustainable and that evolves with the population.”

“We’re treating Smart Cities as a silo-ed thing…so if we’re going to be doing something seriously, it needs to be common practice and it needs to be embedded into the everyday practice of everyone.”

“We believe technology can open up opportunities to meaningfully impact the public sphere.”

“It’s often technology that is not super sexy but it’s tools and processes that help people that have a lot more at stake than what we do, and where cool and new technology is not applied but where there is a massive need.”

“What we’ve found with Code for Australia is that you can attract super, mega talented people not necessarily with those big wages that big tech companies have. The very first thing is creating interesting opportunities that have purpose and autonomy.”

“The world is evolving, cities are evolving, work is evolving, so should all the other things that encompass that.”

“There’s too many trends and too much talking and not so much doing…There’s a tonne of stuff that needs to be fixed but because of those trendy things we don’t pay enough attention to them.”

“[Insert Buzz Word Here] is like the new teenage sex: everyone claims to have done it but the reality is very different.”

“We’ve estimated that over 90% of government IT projects over 10 million dollars fail…if we can move the needle 5 degrees we can save hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“A group of people have a lot at stake if this thing doesn’t work….and so focusing on that because there’s no reason that in this day and age these things should be clunky.” ~ Zoe


Connect with Alvaro on Twitter @alvaromaz or via the Code For Australia open Slack. You can find this via the website,

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The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E52: Smart Local Councils and Communities (Part 2), with Bronwyn Voyce


In this episode of the Smart City Podcast we have part 2 of my conversation with Bronwyn Voice. In Part 1 we talk about the Future Leaders, Future Cities delegation, Bronwyn’s background, the sharing economy and karaoke. In this episode, we continue our conversation and start it by talking about Bronwyn’s observations of the Smart City space in Hong Kong and Japan. We also cover disaster resilience, which both countries are facing, in different aspects, and the future of mobility and emerging trends, and how there’s lots of challenges coming such as facial recognition technology.

Listen Here:

What we cover:

  • Observations and reflections about how Tokyo and Hong Kong are embracing the Smart City Concept
  • Zoe and Bronwyn’s takeaways from the Future Cities, Future Leaders trip to Japan
  • Disaster resilience in Australia and what we can learn from Japan
  • Japan’s population challenges and the similar challenge in rural and regional communities in Australia
  • Other projects Bronwyn is working on at the moment
  • The importance of getting together on the big emerging trends across all disciplines
  • Why governments, industry and academia need to be engaging with the community to bring everybody on the journey
  • A great example of thinking outside the boundaries of metropolitan areas for Smart initiatives
  • The emerging trend of facial and gaze recognition technology and the new challenges that creates


“It’ll be interesting to see how they manage to transform the whole island [of Hong Kong] into a Smart global hub. But they’ve got the talent which is really critical.”

“We have world-leading experts in disaster preparedness and recovery. I think our communities are becoming more resilient. And we have to…we’re not going to ever stop Mother Nature, so we do have to think about that.”

“Building things back better, using technology to better design roads or drainage systems, or whatever infrastructure is all impacted. We can start to think about that in a different light when we think about the Smarts of a Smart City in disaster preparedness and resilience.” 

“There’s a lot of opportunity from an economic development and a regional development [perspective] for Japan and Australia to connect.”

“I don’t think there’s a perfect solution. I think there’s a role for leaders and influencers to do just that: to step up and lead, and bring people together around tables and have really important discussions, and then also do the same with the community.”

“As businesses we need to be more responsible in terms of our contribution, our impact to society and the local economy, and just more broadly, the people’s lives who we impact by the work that we do and who we employ.”

“It’s all about responsibility, collaboration and using dialogue and data to understand the real issues and make better decisions.”

“Let’s get together on the big issues that we know are emerging, and the big opportunities.”

“I know people are talking about [facial recognition technology] but I just don’t think we are advanced enough in the conversation. What does that mean for individual privacy and… what does that mean for what we as consumers, we as citizens, getting access to based on the algorithms, the biases and all those kind of things that are a little bit beyond the every day citizens’s reach and touch in terms of understanding what technology is being used to influence what they see, how they are influenced to try and behave and act. We need a lot more transparency around that and we need to build capacity around what that means for individuals, what that means for government and what that means for the private sector.”


Connect with Bronwyn on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or Email 

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Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.