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 www.startupmuster.com 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

Quotes:

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. 

Links:

Barangaroo, Sydney https://www.barangaroo.com/ 

Startup Muster Report 2018 https://www.startupmuster.com/reports

Tech Central Precinct in Sydney https://www.techsydney.com.au/precinct 

Welcome Choir in Marlborough Hotel http://welcomechoir.com/ 

Connect: 

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: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @smartcommpod

The Smart City Podcast is produced by Ellen Ronalds Keene.

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