How The Democratization Of Public Data Could Help Build More Sustainable And Liveable Communities Across Australia

Natalie Kenny

With Australia’s population expected to double by 2075, all levels of government must formulate the best plans and measures today that will establish resilient, liveable, and sustainable cities and communities of the future, able to support the strains that an additional 25 million people will likely put on them.

To do this, the Commonwealth Government asked the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities to conduct an Inquiry into the Australian government’s role in the development of cities, particularly, looking at how the trajectories of existing cities might be directed towards a more sustainable urban form that enhances urban liveability and quality of life and reduces energy, water, and resource consumption.

In response to this Inquiry, the SAP Institute for Digital Government and the Regional Australian Institute (a think tank committed to helping solve issues concerning regional Australia by working with regional leaders and government at all levels) teamed up to co-author a response paper.

Our paper explored how increased democratization of publicly funded data could help strategic city planning, which today is often hampered by fragmented decision support tools. It highlighted practice of community leaders being made to deal with narrow issues in isolation from one another when very often, communities are all facing similar challenges or opportunities and outlined digital tools and technologies in the market today that enable users to draw together up-to-date data from disparate sources, providing analysis and consequential implications for city leaders.

We argued that a “smart city” isn’t just about smart street lights and connecting everything to IoT sensors to create more data mountains; it’s about how to bring together and leverage all the resources in a community to improve the social capital and well-being of its inhabitants. Data can help break down the information asymmetries that exist between community decision-makers, for example, ensuring that different projects across the country are connected and therefore planners and policymakers can learn from prior mistakes and successes—avoiding repeating the same errors and more easily building upon the achievements of others.

It was an incredible experience to be invited to present at Parliament House and have an audience with the House Standing Committee. The ideas and proposals put forward in these sessions ultimately help to inform the future decisions and policies set by the Commonwealth.

For more on smart cities, see Smart Cities Are About Helping People, Civic Leaders Agree.


Natalie Kenny

About Natalie Kenny

Natalie Kenny is an Industry Value Engineer at SAP, focused on digital transformation of public sector organisations across Australia and New Zealand. She is dedicated to helping governments re-imagine future ways to interact with and deliver services to citizens. Natalie's key focus area is exploring how digital technologies can help un-tap the immense value that lies in government data to extract new value and insights and help solve challenging civic problems.