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2020: Our year in review

Submitted by Adam Beck on December 14, 2020

As 2020 draws to an end, we have taken a moment to reflect on the year.

It was a year of crisis and heartache for many, and a challenge for most.

Our community, in particular local government and councils, were stretched to their limits at times. And for our private sector partners, it was nothing less than a rollercoaster of good times, and bad.

Early on in 2020 (March-May) the SCC spent many months listening, showing empathy and awaiting opportunities to support in the best way we could - by bringing our community together to listen to each others stories, learn from them and then act.

As an organisation we tried new things for the first time, but also relied on our tried and tested methods to service our members and engage with our collaborators.

While the year seemed to be a blur at times - with lock downs, transitions and compromise all common place - we did end on a positive note, with celebration and optimism.

This came in the form of our smart cities awards hosted in early December, which demonstrated the great distance we have come as policy makers, practitioners, innovators and advisers.

The awards showed us that we are consolidating, preparing to scale and seeking new horizons of opportunity in making technology and data work harder to accelerate equity and prosperity, sustainability and hope.

So with a spring in our step, we would like to share with you our achievements in 2020:

  • Smart Cities Week – in our most ambitious event program to date, Smart Cities Week ANZ transitioned to a series of 22 online engagements over 8 months with 2,034 attendees. All of these sessions were recorded and are available for free on demand here
  • Bounce Lab – our private public partnership think tank that mobilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that saw old friends and new ones come together to define and create opportunities for economic recovery in our cities and towns through the publication of the Digital Benefit District Playbook and Data Exchange Canvas
  • Smart Cities Academy – after finalising our Smart Cities Practitioner Certificate program, we piloted the 'Foundation Course' and now have more than 25 certified practitioners from six countries. 2021 will see further Smart Cities Academy modules offered, along with other knowledge exchange and collaborative engagement sessions
  • Digital Twin Week – to help advance and promote the Digital Twin as a leading 'data activation' platform, we hosted our first Digital Twin Week which hosted 12 sessions with more than 1,224 attendees. These session recordings can be accessed here
  • Membership Program – in response to a maturing market and a need by cities to more deeply engage in opportunities, we expanded the SCC membership program to include Cities, Startups and Research and Knowledge Institutions.

 In New Zealand, we achieved more than the previous four years combined, with:

  • the appointment of a dedicated Director of New Zealand, a role taken up by the wonderful Jannat Maqbool
  • a renewed focus on collaboration with complimentary NGO’s and regional bodies
  • a community gathering in the form of a smart cities mini-conference early in the year that kicked off a suit of relationship building excercises with government and academia to growth the smart cities ecosystem in New Zealand
  • a signed partnership with the University of Canterbury, who on-boarded as our first Knowledge and Research Partner globally
  • a Digital Twin Community of Practice with Councils seeking to accelerate their data activation journey
 Throughout the year we continued to publish knowledge resources, ensuring our collective capability to act and investment grows. We added to our library a number of resources, including the following:
  • Smart Cities Guidance Note for Digital Twins - defining the Digital Twin, its benefits, core data sets and functions along with additional guidance on strategy
  • Smart Cities Guidance Note for Privacy Impact Assessment - providing practical guidance for cities to embrace best practice privacy practices in their smart cities projects
  • Digital Benefit District Playbook - a definitive blueprint for building greater economic prosperity in our communities and neighbourhoods thorugh all things digital and data
  • Data Exchange Canvas - a simple tool to support Council's build resilience thorugh data exchange and collaboration, helping them chart a course for data exchange success
  • Smart Cities Info Cards - short and succinct set of knowledge resources on smart cities fundamentals to support awareness raising and capacity building
  • The Digital Twin Hub - the regions most comprehensive resource and exchange platform for all things Digital Twins
  • This is Smart Cities: Darwin - the first e-book in a series showcasing cities and the smart cities journey, and achievements

We also published our key policy platform for government - The Next Spend - to provide clear guidance on how all levels of governent can utilise technology and data as an accelerator to economic recovery, while building social outcomes and promoting sustianability as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As mentioned at the begining of this note, we finish the year celebrating our smart cities leaders, and acknowledging their hard work in transforming our communities for the better. From data leadership, enhanced policy, future of place and social impact, the finalists and winners of the 2020 Australia New Zealand Smart Cities Awards have shined brightly. You can read all about them here.

We would like to thank all our members, supporters and collaborators who worked with us during 2020 to grow our community, build opportunity and make a difference.

We look forward to advancing greatness in 2021 and wish that all beings be well, cared for, and at peace.

Adam BeckExecutive Director, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand