Use Snowy funds to create smart communities, says ASCA

State governments should use proceeds from the sale of their shares in the Snowy Hydro power company to fund wide-range initiatives deploying smart technology.

Laurie Patton, who recently signed on as inaugural CEO of the Australian Smart Communities Association (ASCA), argues the money from the Snowy sale provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to massively improve quality of life in cities and towns.

“Since I joined ASCA late last year the overwhelming message I’ve been receiving is there simply isn’t enough money around for the sorts of ground-breaking improvements that can be achieved using new smart technologies. What a fabulous thing for the states to do with the unexpected money the Australian Government is about to give them.”

ASCA is the not-for-profit peak body representing people and organisations spearheading moves to make our communities more liveable, more sustainable and more technologically empowered. Its members and partners include governments, businesses, universities and passionate individuals. It was originally created as the Broadband Alliance by people primarily involved in local government who saw great opportunities in an emerging digitally-enabled world.

It’s been reported that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to spend the state’s $4.15 billion share in rural and regional NSW to support a “nation building” infrastructure program.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews hasn't indicated yet where the money will be directed but has described the sale as an “historic deal” that will allow the state to build infrastructure and create jobs.

“There’s no doubt Australia needs more infrastructure spending, but let’s not just do more of the same. Let’s start making 21st Century decisions and leverage all the amazing new products and services that are being used internationally in so-called smart cities,” Mr Patton said.

“Smart lighting systems that reduce our power needs, smart meters, intelligent traffic monitoring, smart parking systems, connected garbage bins that alert councils when they’re full. These are just some of the solutions already being deployed around the world,” he said.

“Australia helped invent Wi-Fi. We developed the Heart Pacemaker, the Black Box Flight Recorder and numerous other things that have already improved peoples’ lives. Innovation is a strength on which we need to build a better Australia.” 

Mr Patton said ASCA believed innovation was key to Australia leading the world in the creation of smart cities and communities, repeating calls for Australia to agree to a bipartisan national strategy.

“We need every level of government, and all sides of politics, to embrace the smart use of technology to deal with increasing congestion, environmental issues and the many other constraints that are causing people to question the state of modern city living.”

From 9-11 May 2018 ASCA will host the Australian Smart Communities Conference in Melbourne, the ultimate smart cities / communities event in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It promises to be a great event with high profile local and international speakers and a 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,” Mr Patton said.

“Entitled Smart people creating smart communities, the conference will also be a high-profile platform to showcase ASCA and its members and ensure we build on our reputation as the preeminent demand side organisation and influencer of government and industry policy.”