SCP E77 The Power of Leadership and Technology in Smart Communities, with Jonathan Reichental

SmartCommunityPodcast_BlogTitleImage_Episode77 Jonathan Reichental


In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I had a fascinating conversation with Jonathan Reichental, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Palo Alto, California. Jonathan shared a bit about his background in technology, why he loves the way technology can make positive things happen for individuals and the world. He talks about what it’s been like being, in his words, a bit of a maverick from the private sector, now being a public servant and working for local government.

Jonathan shares how the City of Palo Alto is working on digitisation and the high degree of importance they place on collaboration with the community. We talk about what a Smart City or Smart Community means to Jonathan, why it’s so important and how being in the opening chapters of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating a lot of change for all of us.

Jonathan also explains why cities or urban locations are the future, not only in terms of where most humans will live going forwards, but also in terms of solving the big problems facing our planet, such as climate change. We talk about some of the projects Palo Alto is currently working on and why decision making and leadership is key to better integrating across disciplines, industries, governments and academia.

We finish off discussing emerging trends, including the human trends of the digital divide and human rights, and tech trends such as blockchain, AI and data. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it!

Don’t forget to check out the Urban Motion Conference in Brisbane

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Jonathan’s background in the technology industry and business
  • How he made the switch from the private to the public sector to become a technologist within government
  • What sparked Jonathan’s interest in the Smart space and how Palo Alto decided to become a digital city
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the many, rapid changes facing humanity and the planet
  • Why the future of every human on the planet is in the urban context
  • How the US is embracing Smart concepts both nationally but also regionally and locally
  • Ways Palo Alto prioritises and involves community in collaboration, and why results are more important than names and terms
  • The power of leadership and decision making in integrating across disciplines, industries, government and with community
  • The emerging trends of blockchain and AI technology transforming the way we do things like democracy and medicine
  • The potential of data in cities  once we start to really embrace it the way the private sector has


I think we should transform the analog ways in which City works—all this paperwork and inefficiency—and push as much as we can the capability to smartphones and online and get rid of all the filing cabinets and the abundance of paperwork we have at City Hall. Make things more efficient, more accurate, lower cost and create a better experience.

We have so many difficult problems to solve. They’re interesting problems. And we now recognise that technology is going to be the heart of solving those problems, so now we have a vendor space that’s beginning to step up and help solve some of those problems. This is the next stage of digitisation…the intersection of digitisation and hardware.

We’re in the opening chapters of a revolution, a fourth industrial revolution. The way in which the world enters this revolution will look completely different on the other side…Whatever it is, and there’s going to be more of it, we’re in a great big transformation and an individual and an organisation is not going to be able to sit this out.

[A Smart Community] is a response to some very big challenges, with technology at the centre…It’s not business as usual. We can’t respond in the way we did 20-30 years ago, it just doesn’t cut it, it’s going to be ineffective. We have to make bold decisions, big decisions, some major investments. We’ve got to do it regionally, nationally and now globally.

The future of everyone is in an urban context. We’re moving into cities now 2 million people per week. By the middle of the 21st Century 70 – 80% of all humans, of which there will be about 9 billion, will live in a city. Our future belongs to cities, so if we’re going to live in cities, which is looks like we are, we’re going to want clean air and water.

Our cities are where the climate has been changed, and cities are where we’re going to fix the climate crisis if we have any chance at fixing it…This matters to every single one of us. There’s nobody on the planet who gets to say, “This isn’t my problem.”

It’s cities that matter, so it’s Mayors that are going to be having the biggest impact on the climate crisis and the way in which their cities operate. Now we don’t live in a vacuum, we have to work with our state and federal colleagues, [but] the power to influence the future is now fully embedded in cities. That’s where GDP is created, that’s where the climate crisis will be fixed, that’s where we will solve and take care of air quality and water quality and energy.

There’s nothing we can do today that isn’t benefited from collaboration. There’s nothing we can do in the absence of collaboration. We’re all in this together. We succeed here in Palo Alto because we are so well integrated between the public servants and the community members and also with the private sector and academia and other NGOs.

For the everyday community member, [the term Smart] is less important to them [than results]. They just want to know that we’re using contemporary technology, we’re innovative in how we do things, we’re managing costs, and we’re prioritising effectively.

The first thing is to make the decision [to integrate, collaborate]. The leadership of the community has to say ‘we are going to embrace all voices and create channels and opportunities for those voices.’ It starts there.

We [in Palo Alto] still strongly believe in the city or town hall concept: in person, get people in a room, get people up on whiteboards and around tables, figuring out together how we solve problems.

I’m a guy who has spend 30 years in technology innovation and I’m even exhausted by the rate of change and the rate of new tech. I have the greatest empathy for those who don’t spend their days thinking about technology but are impacted by it.

Collectively we have to come to an understanding that things are happening now that have greater scope, bigger impact and faster velocity. Scope, impact and velocity are all going at rates that we’ve never seen in the history of humanity.

The future is here but it’s not evenly distributed, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to our cities.

Cities still have to discover the value of data. The private sector has acknowledged that the data they collect in legal, ethical ways is beneficial to driving success of a business. Government has been a little slower…but can start to leverage that as a real asset in moving forward, solving problems and complementing decision making.


Find the full show notes as:

Connect with Jonathan on Twitter @reichental or find his podcast ‘Drinking Wine Talking Tech’ on Apple Podcasts here

Connect with me via email:

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E76 Smart Regions and Communities for the Next Generation, with Kerry Anderson

SmartCommunityPodcast_BlogTitleImage_Episode76 Kerry AndersonIn this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have an awesome conversation with Kerry Anderson, the founder of Operation NextGen and the author of Entrepreneurship: It’s everybody’s business. Kerry is passionate about sharing stories from rural and regional Australia.

Kerry tells us a little secret to start with, and also the importance of having new conversations with new people in new places. Kerry and I discuss the concept of Smart Towns and Smart Communities, and how these towns and communities have to embrace change and be willing to experiment.

Kerry then talks about the value of entrepreneurs in the region, and how complacency can affect the growth of a regional area. Kerry then shares about some of the regional conferences and events that are happening, shares some stories and tells us about Operation NextGen.

Kerry tells us about the research she completed overseas and the importance of collaboration and champions to better integrate across the different disciplines, government and industries. We talk about improving connectivity so we can embrace the gig economy in regional Australia. As always, I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we covered in this episode:

  • Why Kerry was drawn to regional areas and why she started Operation Next Gen
  • What sparked Kerry’s interest in the Smart space and the connectivity piece 
  • Kerry’s definition of a Smart Community and why she believes it’s so important for rural and regional areas
  • How Australia is embracing the concept not only in the capital cities but also in the regions
  • The Operation Next Gen program and other projects Kerry is working on
  • How Kerry works with communities with Operation Next Gen
  • The importance of business not just for our communities but for everyone’s future in Australia 
  • Kerry’s research and experiences in regional areas overseas
  • The value of collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystems and why evidence is important to support the conversations
  • Why we need to accept failure as part of the learning process and ‘have a go’
  • The challenges and opportunities of collaboration for commercialising innovative ideas 
  • The differences in collaboration approaches and abilities in regional areas 
  • Emerging trends of different models for small businesses and agriculture
  • The hidden industry of the gig economy and working from home


We’ve got to have new conversations with new people in new places.

I think a Smart Community has the ability to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes. I am so in awe of the communities that have that ability to reinvent themselves over and over again, and many communities do. A Smart Community has to embrace change, they have to be willing to experiment, they recognise the value of entrepreneurs and they need to be able to collaborate across all sectors for the greater good, because ti’s more than just us, it’s about the future o our communities and their survival. 

I think that complacency is our biggest danger, and when we live in a global world, no-one can afford to be complacent. This is the problem: many rural communities tend to sit back and think [they’re] well established…but change is inevitable and we just need to be able to actively embrace it. Some communities are really good at doing that and others need a little bit more help to get that conversation going. 

When I go around regional Australia, there’s lots of innovative businesses operating in rural towns everywhere, and they’re not necessarily connected in the Australian space yet but they’re doing awesome stuff.

It’s so important to have these conversations so that people are part of the change. It should be led by the community for the community. 

Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs is the fundamental part of Operation Next Gen. Our whole standard of living depends on a strong business sector and that’s a big part of what I do: helping people to understand the importance of business…. Australia runs on small business, that is the backbone of our economy.

In this era of connectivity, we have rural entrepreneurs that are connecting all over the world. We should be building on that. Density doesn’t have to be in a geographic sense these days, it could be through connectivity. 

The gig economy and [people working from the home office] is almost like a hidden industry in many rural towns and I think this is a huge opportunity for regional Australia, in that we’ve got this connectivity…there are lots of people using technology to work in different ways and they’re not driving into the offices like they used to. 

[The gig economy] a new kind of working…and it requires a whole new set of skills, which is so important for our education system to pick up on.


Connect with Kerry on LinkedIn, as @kerrywords on Twitter, as @RuralEntrepreneurs on Facebook or at her website 

Connect with me via email: 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

Mobility, Trust and Seamless Payments in the Smart Community, with Stephen Coulter

Smart City Podcast, Smart Community Podcast


In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I have a great chat with Stephen Coulter from Localift. Stephen tells us about his background in financial services, banking and later startups, and how the two have now combined in his interest in the Smart Mobility space. We talk about Smart Cities being made up of a series of hyper-local communities, and why it’s not just technology but also psychology that we need to be looking at when preparing for and encouraging the changes that are coming, whether they happen cooperatively or disruptively. Stephen then shares with us some of the projects he’s currently working on, including Local Lift, and why trust and seamless payment processes are so important in the Smart Mobility space. We discuss the concept of shared mobility and why it’s an emerging trend not being talked about enough, despite the fact that it’s an important part of the 21st Century solution to the 20th Century problem of congestion. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen Here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Stephen’s background in financial services, banking and startups and his journey into the Smart mobility space
  • How Stephen defines Smart Cities and why it takes a community (not just a single entity) to drive change
  • The ways Smart City conversations can bring people together
  • The importance of technology and psychology in driving behaviour change
  • Where Stephen thinks Australia is at when it comes to Smart mobility
  • The problem with 20th Century solutions to 21st Century challenges
  • Projects Stephen is currently working on and how Localift came to be 
  • Why we should be looking at trust and not just identity
  • The need for seamless payments across systems, locations and modes of transport
  • How to better integrate across governments, disciplines and industries
  • The emerging trend of shared mobility


I’ve always been driven by the customer focus and looking at the future to see what innovations we can bring customers. 

Smart Cities [are] these hyper local communities that share something important to them in common, that overlap, that collectively make up cities. If a city is going to be a Smart City and bring the changes we’re all hearing about, you have to engage not only at the government levels but at those multiple community levels, and also with businesses that are connected to these communities that bring all these things together and have the ability to actually generate change. I don’t think any one party in that equation can actually drive the change without the support of the others.

It provides a really strong focus for people to come together around the issues that are driving some of the problems in cities, and also to bring them together around the changes required, and gives you a platform to get that collaboration happening between the many parties that are involved. 

What are the barriers to shared mobility and people doing multimodal mobility?

Car pooling is only part of the solution, [there’s] lots of new solutions emerging around the world, but again a lot are focused on solo travel. [Localift] focus on how to manage trust so people are more comfortable moving together, and how to manage payments, so that’s seamless across all modes of transport. 

Most of the applications and services that talk about trust actually only talk about identity, and verifying identity. It’s a good first step but it doesn’t prove you’re trustworthy, it just proves you are who you say you are… How do you go beyond that and find ways to identify trust marks that indicate somebody is trust worthy to the point where you’d be happy to share mobility with them even if you haven’t met them directly before?

The other really important thing to drive new forms of mobility is for payment options to be seamless and interoperable. Make it easy for people from door to door…How payments can be integrated and aggregated to get from A to B for entire journey?

Those sort of things play to the psychology part of behaviour change. There needs to be incentives, pricing levers that can be pulled, cross subsidies that make it simple for people to do these things. 

When you look at most of the mobility trends that are happening, they’re still about the technology and getting these autonomous vehicles out there, or getting bikes or scooters or how we’re going to do ride hailing. The problems around the world in congestion are very common from city to city, and the solution is on the road already in many cases. Literally millions of driver only vehicles are on the road in cities every day with 80% of their seats empty; if we can get people starting to share their mobility with the cars that are already on the road and the people that are happy to drive them we can get significant change very quickly without infrastructure spend.



Stephen’s articles:



Connect with Stephen via Email or on LinkedIn

Connect with me via email: 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

Startups, Coworking and Smart Tech, with Monica Wulff

Hello #smartfriends and welcome to the first interview episode of the Smart Community Podcast. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go back and listen to yesterday’s episode which is all about why I’ve rebranded to expand the conversation away from just cities. As you probably know by now, the conversations always come back to the human beings at the centre anyway, so broadening the conversation to be about Smart Communities is important. Having said all of that, we will still be using the term Smart Cities, because it is a common industry term and because most people are quite familiar with it. This episode is no different, and although the first part of the conversation is very much around Smart Cities, you will see that we do shift focus to me more inclusive of the Smart Community focus about halfway.

So, in this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I interview Monica Wulff, Cofounder of Startup Muster, a data-focused company that measures and publishes the progress, challenges, and opportunities within the Australian startup ecosystem. Their 2018 report is out now and you can find it at In this episode, Monica shares her passion for the future economic and social wellbeing of Australians, how childhood travel and her background in economics sparked her interest in the Smart City space, and she tells us about some of the projects she’s involved in. We do talk a lot about technology, because that is where Monica spends a lot of her time, but we also talk about the relationship we have with our technology, the evolution of our places and how they can serve us as a community. Monica talks about the need for courage for all of us as we are experiencing a lot of change and will continue to do so going forward, and the emerging trends of coworking spaces, the sharing economy, better use of dead space and why, amidst all this tech talk, we must include the Arts in our Smart conversation. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Monica’s background in economics and technology startups, and her passion for the future economic and social wellbeing of Australians
  • How childhood travel and her experiences with Startup Muster have sparked her interest in the Smart City space
  • Monica’s definition of Smart and why the concept is so important
  • The evolution of cities and our relationship with technology
  • How Australia is faring in the Smart space and what Monica would love to see more of
  • The need for courage in the face of this huge amount of change that we’re all facing
  • Some things to think about in order to better integrate across disciplines, government, academia and industry
  • The importance of The Arts in our communities and why we should be incorporating that more into city planning
  • The emerging trends of coworking spaces, the sharing economy and making better use of dead spaces


I am really passionate about the future economic and social wellbeing of Australians. 

Through Startup Muster I’ve come across all these different technology companies that are building technology that is going to impact how our cities run, how we engage with each other, and even to the point where using big data and technology to help influence decisions making with governments around planning, electricity usage, or population density and how it moves through out he day. There is so much that we can start to track and understand about our society. And it all just comes together in this Smart Cities realm because that’s plcae and that’s people and that’s how we interact. 

A Smart City for me is a city that runs seamlessly and is one that makes sense, where we’re able to go about our day to day lives without being impacted by concerns [of technology, infrastructure, and things we use every day] being put up for political debate. 

It’s taking the history of the city into account because the history informs how people engage with each other, and what we’re used to and what w would be willing to potentially entertain for our city. 

It’s kind of like air, we shouldn’t have to worry about seeing it, but we shouldn’t have to worry about not having it.

Technology is a big part o the concept of Smart Cities, and our relationship with and usage of and involvement with technology is not going way, if anything it’s going to become more involved in our day to day. So…what does that look like? What is our relationship with technology?… We really need to think long and hard about what that’s going to look like and how it is going to serve us as a community.

You sometimes see two councils doubling up on testing the same concept. And is that really effective? If Bondi is potentially looking at new paid parking scenarios, maybe Mossman shouldn’t be doing it. Maybe Mossman should be focusing on another area and then they could do shared learnings.

Change doesn’t come from doing the same thing…we’re going into terrain that’s never been done before, and it’s unrealistic to assume that we’re suddenly going to do it right the first go and that we’re not going to be iterating on this.  

All of this that we’re going through at the moment requires courage, even the Smart Cities element. It’s a response to what we’re already as individuals experiencing, which is a significant amount of change and a significant amount of digital connectedness and that’s changing how we’re interacting with each other physically. 

Both mainstream traditional industries and government need to be aware of the risks associated with not engaging with the emerging technology companies, and also the benefits that can come from it. This isn’t a marketing exercise anymore…it goes to a much deeper level than that where we’re really trying to effect change. But until there’s actual strong commitment from government and industry, what we’ll find is the technology that is being adopted by those different sectors is coming from overseas, rather than sourcing from our own local pool. 

We’re not talking enough about The Arts, and we really need to be. We have these hybrid industries of art and technology and you can really develop out some beautiful solutions. 


Barangaroo, Sydney 

Startup Muster Report 2018

Tech Central Precinct in Sydney 

Welcome Choir in Marlborough Hotel 


Connect with Monica on LinkedIn, or as @monwulff on Twitter and Instagram. You can also head to Startup Muster to read the report or be involved.

Connect with me via email: 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

SCP E72: The Empowerment of Smartivists, with Tom Mueller

SmartCityPodcast_BlogTitleImage_Episode72 Tom Mueller

In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I had a fascinating conversation with Tom Mueller, an Economic Geographer and one of the cofounders of Bee Smart City. He shares with us how Bee Smart City came to be, what they do and a bit about their database connecting Smart City providers with people seeking their services. We also discuss the fact that Smart Cities really needs to be acknowledging that it’s not always about the big cities, but municipalities of any size, which you might have noticed is an increasingly common conversation on the podcast, so watch this space….

Tom also shares his perspective on how Germany is embracing Smart concepts and the opportunities and challenges of this new paradigm globally, as well as the emerging trend of bottom-up initiatives and empowering Smart Citizens, who Tom calls Smartivists. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • The story of Bee Smart City’s 3 founders and what sparked their interest in the Smart City space
  • What sparked Tom’s interest in the Smart City space and
  • Tom’s definition of a Smart City and why he believes it’s so important
  • Why Tom believes we misunderstand the term Smart and misuse the term City
  • The bottom up approach and why the local level is so powerful
  • How Germany is currently embracing the Smart City concept and the recent acceleration of the movement there
  • What Bee Smart City is, and how and why they set up their database
  • The need for Cities to embrace collaboration and public-private partnerships
  • The empowerment of Smartivists and the rise of purpose-driven (as opposed to tech-driven) change
  • What the public sector can learn from the private sector about listening to customers and stakeholders
  • The emerging trend of the power of bottom up initiatives
  • What do bees have to do with Smart Cities


It always fascinated and also satisfied me to see how future-oriented projects and initiatives can benefit citizens, companies and the local government itself.

Altogether we have been working a lot in spacial development (whether it’s real estate or economic development) and the technology you see in the Smart City movement connects us to each other and we want to utilise this development to tackle the challenges cities have today.

We believe we can improve cities and communities by tapping into collective intelligence to leverage the best solutions and also new methodology to drive efficiency, sustainability, equality and economic prosperity. These are the big challenges that we have in cities and communities across the globe.

If you want to really change the development and successfully tackle all the problems that we have currently then it needs to be done at the local level….You need the public and private sector for this. [Cofounder] Bart is a perfect example for how the real estate industry is adopting technology to increase liveability and also support the development of cities on the local level.

Our perspective, our definition. For us the Smart City concept describes the ability for utilising the capacity of a city or community to create and adopt solutions for overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities that help transform the places we call home…to a more prosperous and more liveable place for all stakeholders.

What defines how ‘Smart’ a city is is the ecosystem of solutions that are implemented over time…It’s an evolutionary process. It is kind of a continuous development circle, in which a city or community steadily improves its services and processes for all stakeholders, and for the citizens that live in the city.

We believe it’s not purely about technology. Often Smart is explained as the technology and data, but it’s more about the Smart way of implementing solutions, which is more important than the tech. How well do you know your customer’s need? That’s the measure of success.

If you look at Smart City from a more technology perspective [in Germany]… in embracing advances in digital technologies, and this holds true especially for the public sector, the adoption of innovation has been lagging behind…Germany, has a strong security mentality and if you take our federal system into account, you will have a second reason why processes take a lot longer than in smaller or more centrally governed nations.

What we have learned is that we always talk about the big challenges ahead, but on the operational level what everybody is looking for is about lessons learned, is about proven solutions, and…we need to share best-practices globally. That’s what Bee Smart City is about, how we want to accelerate the development of Smarter Cities and Communities globally by enabling and facilitating sharing of best practices globally.

Those collaborative efforts, whether it’s government internally or external with private parters, need to be nurtured. And we see that often cities believe they know everything and this is pretty dangerous thinking if you want to make progress, because you need all the different stakeholders, and you need to be open and transparent about what you do and take into account the needs of the other stakeholders.

Governments need to take into account the knowledge and passion of local champions and citizens willing to support the development of Smart Cities and really recognise the value that this intelligence of the citizens brings into processes, because without this human-centric perspective it is a waste of money and a waste of a lot of different resources and it won’t be possible to create sustainable and working solutions.


Connect with Tom and Bee Smart City at or find them socials @beesmartcity

Connect with me via email:

Connect via Twitter and Facebook @smartcitypod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.


Sparking an interest in 3D printing, with Stephanie Piper

SmartCityPodcast_BlogTitleImage_Episode71 with Stephanie Piper

In this episode of the Smart City Podcast, I interview Stephanie Piper, 3D printing enthusiast, and the Community Engagement Coordinator at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, where she runs their Maker Space. In this episode we discuss Steph’s journey from studying biomedicine and vaccine development, to being involved in the 3D printing space and why she’s so passionate about the possibilities and opportunities 3D printing technology provides for Smart Cities.

Steph explains what 3D printing actually is, and what kind of people and projects are happening at her Maker Space, as well as some of the ways 3D printing can be used to help recycle and reuse plastics, and implications for the circular economy in these particular areas. Steph shares her passion for educating people about this technology, and her views about integrating across disciplines, governments and academia, as well as some of the emerging trends in the 3D printing and maker space arena.

What we don’t discuss in this episode is something exciting that has happened for Stephanie since we recorded this interview back in September. Along with a team she formed at the Toowoomba Startup Weekend Women, Steph has started a business to help engage girls in STEM and to teach electronics in primary schools. It’s called Spark Girls and they were the winning team at the Toowoomba Startup Weekend Women, which then saw them head to the Asia Pacific Start Up Weekend Women finals in Bali a couple of weeks ago. Very excitingly, Spark Girls emerged the winner in Bali as well, so that is a wonderful achievement and just the beginning for this fledgling business.

Hopefully we can catch up with Steph again in the new year to hear more about how she’s educating the next generation and encouraging girls to be engaged in STEM. But in the meantime, this is a great conversation about the possibilities of 3D printing. As always, I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we cover in this episode:

  • Steph’s background in biomedicine and vaccine development, and her journey into 3D printing
  • What sparked her interest in 3D printing and also the Smart City space
  • What a Smart City means to Steph and why she thinks the concept is important
  • Some of the projects Steph has seen in the Smart City space that excite her
  • The Maker Space Steph runs and the projects she and others work on there
  • Why Steph is so passionate and believes it’s so important to teach others what’s possible with 3D printing and other technology
  • What 3D printing and digital fabrication actually is and the opportunities it presents for the circular economy
  • Integrating across disciplines, academia and government via community organisations
  • The emerging trends of community-led projects and efforts in this space


I had a go at building my own 3D printer from a kit, that was the only way you could do it back then affordably. And I got put on a research team at QUT, looking at 3D printable biodegradable scaffolds for implantation.

Now I’m the Community Engagement Coordinator at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, and my job is to run the Library Maker Space, which I absolutely adore. So I still get to follow my passion of working with 3D printing and I get to enjoy sharing my passion with others in that space, which is pretty exciting.

To me a smart city is a place where it’s rigged out with enough sensors and enough inputs that it can really work for you. I’m particularly excited about the area of the circular economy and how we can really make that useful to us in that sense, but yeah there’s so many great projects going on in this space which makes me happy to see as well. 

It’s important because we need to keep progressing and keep growing in this space. We can’t just sit back and stagnate and say, “This is good enough”. I feel like we really need to power forward and make sure that we can help people as best we can with the technology that we can provide, and part of that, part of where eI want to sit in with all this, is making sure that people can understand the technology and feel confident in using it. 

I’m really keen on 3D printing and using that technology to do innovative and new things. I’ve been really keen on the idea of exploring textiles with 3D printing recently. Not many people are looking at textiles meaningfully with the technology because most people that own a 3D printer for hobbyist sake are guys, and of course textiles are usually a particularly feminine pursuit, and I feel like we have a lot of room to grow and explore in that area. 

It’s so important to learn digital fabrication skills because there’s so much potential with what you can do with it, and we’ve grown so much from the traditional manufacturing techniques that we had to originally employ. 

I tend to find that many of the classes, the people who attend them are often teachers. The scenario they tend to find themselves in if they come to a 3D printing workshop, is they’ve had enough budget or gotten some grant money from somewhere to buy a 3d printer but it’s stayed in its box for a year and no-one knows how to use it, which is so saddening to my soul to hear about. 

I feel like sometimes the technology moves to fast for us and especially for the average teacher or average person to try and catch up with it, so I want to make sure I can share my knowledge and passion and ideas for what you can do with it, and make learning a lot more fun and easy for the teachers to embrace with the students. 

There’s quite a few other different ways of digital fabrication…those involve traditional subtractive manufacturing where you start with a block of something and you chip away to make your object. 3D printing’s a bit special because it is additive manufacturing, in contrast, where there’s no material wastage, you have a huge amount of freedom in what shapes you can create, there’s no slowing down for complexity, so you can get a high degree of complexity quite fast, and it’s a pretty nice technology.

It’s going to be a slow game, I think, integration across the board in that way. I’m sort of really excited anyway for the integration hopefully at the community level, where you have a lot of different businesses locally, especially with recycling of goods. I feel like theres’ a lot of potential for reducing need through Smart ways of working by working with these community groups. 

I’m excited about the implications for the circular economy in these particular areas as well as the Brisbane Hacker Space. I feel like not many people know about them because they are so grass roots driven and so volunteer orientated that they don’t have a budget to advertise. It really is a word of mouth thing. It’s a well kept secret. 


Inmoov robotics project that one of Steph’s Maker Space members is working on

The WA plastic bottle reprocessing facility Steph mentioned is Greenbatch

Filastruder and Protocycler are both versions of recycling plastic into 3D printer filament


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The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.