In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had a fantastic conversation with Amelia Loye. Amelia is a Community and Stakeholder Engagement Specialist who and the Founder of engage2, a public participation and stakeholder engagement consultancy. We begin by discussing the concept of Smart Government and Amelia explains why she’s so passionate about balancing the interests of different groups.
We also discuss the upcoming Smart Cities Week events in Sydney from the 29th of October to the 2nd of November, including the EngageTech Forum at the NSW State Library on the 1st of November which Amelia’s team have deliberately designed to provide a participatory experience and to facilitate connections and collaborations amongst attendees.
Amelia then dives into a favourite technique of hers to integrate across different disciplines, industries and governments and given this is her area of specialty, her answer digs right down, which is great. We finish by discussing the emerging trends Amelia thinks we should be talking about more, including the opportunity to leverage “invited data” and the importance of continual and mutual dialogue and education to create an informed community and skilful workforce. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.
What we cover in this episode:
- Amelia’s background in community and stakeholder engagement and her passion for balancing different interests
- What a Smart City and Smart Community means to Amelia
- The Smart Government concept and why it’s so important
- The opportunities and challenges in the Smart space in Australia
- The Smart Cities week events coming up in Sydney, including the EngageTech Forum on Nov 1st
- How Amelia’s team have engaged the event with participaory learning in mind, and why peer-to-peer sharing is so powerful
- Amelia’s favourite technique for integrating across disciplines, government and industry
- The emerging trends of using insights from “invited data” to meet community need and the ethics around data analysis
- The importance of educating ourselves and the community, and why we all need to be patient with each other as we learn
I’m really passionate about how do we balance interests and utilise the resources we’ve got available to us in a community, in a way that meets everybody’s interests as best as we possibly can.
My focus in the Smart Cities area is building government’s capability to understand their community and those different stakeholders and those different interested in the community, and making sure that they’ve got the systems and processes in place within their organisation so that they can leverage that information, that intelligence —which is Smart— to make better decisions, to design services and programs that are delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible. For me, that’s a Smart Government.
It’s about being prepared. It’s about having the right systems and processes in place within your organisation, so that everything you’re investing into—and when I say investing, I mean money and time—everything you’re investing into is actually delivering the best possible outcome; and that’s the best outcome for your organisation, it’s always the best outcome for your community, particularly given that’s what we all hope your governments are doing for us.
I know a lot of people are very focused on technology and efficiency of government, and I think that’s really wonderful to be seeing as well, as long as we’re not forgetting about the community and the people side. And I mean staff, as well as members of the community.
I think [Australia is] doing pretty well…I think there’s some really strong leadership in our country from a growing mass of people who are working inside government organisations, but also who want to work with them—either technology providers or these new associations that are popping up to support governments getting Smarter—and I think it’s an exciting time. We’re seeing a tipping point.
[At EngageTech] we’re talking about technology for community engagement—and we’re not just talking about online engagement, we’re talking about the technologies that are available for us to gather data, analyse data, report data back to the people who need to make decisions in government. And also how we can manage relationships with stakeholders more effectively by having the right systems in place in our organisation as well as all of the amazing, interesting technologies that are available (e.g. AR, VR, AI) to make community engagement quite frankly more engaging.
My focus is very much [on] how we design the digital architecture, systems and processes for democracy inside government organisations.
Innovation in government, and Smart Cities, Smart Government can all sound very fluffy until you get down to the tack, so what are these innovative methods? And how can we learn them but also how can we apply them?
Understanding your community, so leveraging your data analytics and your methodologies to identify those stakeholders in the corporate sector and the community sector who can help you and who want to help you to deliver social outcomes, a Smart Government is well prepared for that. That’s how business and government can work together.
If I was to pick one thing that government could do to facilitate and enable that, it’s really getting those systems in place so they know who their stakeholders are, they know the social capital that is available to them in their community, and they can leverage it.
The reporting of insights from community, that’s what we’re not talking about enough. Governments are collecting data from citizens all the time—through complaints, customer service centres, libraries, emails and letters—and there’s a real opportunity to leverage that “invited data.” I’d like to see more of that data and insights being generated from that data being used on an ongoing basis….We need to talk about that more and how we do that better.
We’re all learning. Technology is advancing our practice so rapidly and we all are becoming technologists and data scientists…[it’s about] being patient with each other as we learn those skills, but also not sitting back because things are moving fast.
Smart Cities Week Conference
Centre For Civic Innovation
Book here for the EngageTech event at the Sydney Library on the 1st November 2018
Innovation Academy with Code for Australia nd NSW D finance services and innovation
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The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.