Why ASCA needs to focus on advocacy for smart communities

By Laurie Patton, ASCA CEO

According to the ALP’s digital economy spokesman Ed Husic MP, quoted in InnovationAus, “Big Tech is on the nose in large parts of the community which does not trust its motives and fails to recognise its promise”.

From my experience this article sums up the situation pretty well. For three years before joining ASCA I ran ISOC-AU as it was originally known, well actually hardly known at all really! Apart from changing the name to Internet Australia (IA) we set about making sure politicians on all sides knew who we were and what we wanted – a 21st Century NBN. A little over two years ago IA began calling for the adoption of FTTdp, otherwise known as fibre-to-the-driveway (or as the American-led NBN Co insists on calling it, fibre-to-the-curb). At that time neither the Government nor the Opposition had embraced this new technology. Fast forward and NBN Co is now deploying FTTdp, although without any actual admission fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), reliant on Telstra’s ageing copper wires, isn’t working out as they’d expected. The ALP is moving in the same policy direction. History will no doubt prove the work of IA was prescient and maybe even accord the organisation some credit for helping our politicians realise the need to act.

Last week I spent three days in Canberra making sure the pollies know what ASCA is all about too. Along with our new president Brook Dixon, I met with Angus Taylor to congratulate the government on the recent allocation of $28 million via the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. We were able to inform Mr Taylor that around 30 percent of the funding went to ASCA members or partners.

I won’t name all the politicians I caught up with but it covered most of the field. Next year ASCA will continue to meet with our elected officials – at federal, state and local government level. As I’ve been pointing out to those I’ve seen so far, what we need amounts to the ultimate ‘unity ticket’. All levels of government and both sides of politics coming together to appreciate the opportunities that exist for Australia to be a leading advocate and implementer of smart communities technologies and systems.

From 9-11 May next year ASCA will host the biggest smart cities / communities event in the Southern Hemisphere in Melbourne. It promises to be a great event with high profile local and international speakers and range of sponsors and exhibitors who will ensure delegates come away at the top of their game when it comes to knowing and understanding the opportunities waiting to be explored.

The annual Australian Smart Communities conference will also be a high profile platform to showcase the 'promise', as Ed Husic puts it, and to ensure we build on the reputation of ASCA as the preeminent demand side organisation and influencer of government and industry policy.

ASCA often publishes material containing personal opinions. We do this to stimulate debate. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect ASCA policy. We welcome comments from members, so please let us know what you think.

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