Letter to the editor

“Smart Cities…for everybody”

Dear LG Focus,
What a worthwhile experience it was last month, attending the National General Assembly in Canberra.   Delegates from around Australia gathered to listen, learn and participate.

Our Governor General painted a realistic picture as he opened the event. What a mix of councils of different sizes, both geographically and socially we have in the wide brown land.

A theme of many of the guest speakers, was looking to the future, with technology leading the way, to build so-called ‘Smart Cities’.
Hearing some of the presenters, all of whom had no doubt reached and travelled far in their educational experience, there seemed to be a scrim of unreality lowered between some of what was being proposed, and the real world.
Some points to keep in mind:

  • Many of our students don’t finish Year 12 and go onto university.
  • We are being challenged to find jobs for ‘everyone’ so, as a community, that values ‘everyone’, we can all feel a sense of belonging and contribution.
  • We have a problem with some of our young people feeling undervalued. All jobs can provide value.

When in Canberra, I caught a bus to the Assembly from my accommodation. It had a driver. We conversed, and here was a chap happy in his work as a bus driver.

As I walked from the bus stop I passed the council workers responsible for the rubbish bins. Once again, people at work, doing their bit: rubbish collectors.

I also passed the gentleman with his cleaning trolley full of brooms, mops and buckets: a cleaner.

My point is, as we discuss and plan for modern ‘places’ with the white knight of ‘technology’ riding the steed of ‘data’, we need to be honest about our priorities and try to design and plan for everybody. This means jobs at all levels.

Maybe doing away with the bus driver, the rubbish collector, the parking officer, etc. might not be as ‘efficient’ as the technological alternative, but, for those families, it’s a job for mum or dad.

Councillor Mark Radford
Horsham Rural City Council