Ipswich Mayor recognised with Smart Cities leadership award for transparency hub

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding has been recognised for her leadership, winning a Smart Cities Australia-New Zealand award for delivering the innovative Transparency and Integrity Hub.

The hub, which went live on 1 July 2020, was Mayor Harding’s first order of business after taking office following the 28 March local government election.

It was recognised as an Australian first for open government and a significant step in launching Ipswich into a new era of transparency, integrity and good governance.

Mayor Harding, who described the hub as the “gold standard” for accountability of Ipswich ratepayers’ money, said she was delighted to be recognised for the leadership award and thanked fellow councillors and the community for supporting her on this innovative and visionary project.

“It is an absolute honour to win this award, however I see it as recognition for our new council, which has taken bold, brave and courageous steps to restore trust, transparency and accountability at Ipswich City Council and given the community what it truly deserves in terms of good governance,” she said.

“I have said since day one that the council will be a showcase for best practice for others to follow. Local government provides critical services to the communities we serve and we are doing just that.

“It is our duty to advocate for, lead and serve our Ipswich community and I vowed that during this term of council there will be the highest degree of transparency over how ratepayer money is used.”

The third annual Smart Cities Awards was presented virtually this year by Smart Cities Council Australia-New Zealand.

“This year’s winners have played key roles in the national advancement of smart cities across Australia and New Zealand, while also leading a digitally-enabled and data-driven recovery from COVID-19,” said Smart Cities Council’s Executive Director Adam Beck.

Eighteen winners have been acknowledged across seven categories for their visionary leadership, best practice projects and real-world impact, including Mayor Harding and Ipswich privacy consultant Nicole Stephensen, for her work to reframe privacy as an opportunity rather than a roadblock, in the Smart Cities Leaders category.

Mayor Harding paid tribute to Ms Stephensen (who was featured in this Ipswich First article in May 2020), and Ipswich City Council’s Sonia Cooper, general manager of corporate services, and Sylvia Swalling, chief information officer, for their leadership in open data and privacy projects.

Ms Cooper and Ms Swalling played key roles in launching the hub and overseeing its ongoing operation.

“I am surrounded by so many strong supporters of open data, who advocate for information, being open and accountable, yet work within the boundaries of privacy protection. These women have been instrumental in putting Ipswich on the global map and they deserve all the plaudits as well,” she said.

Mayor Harding promised to continue the open government journey with the Transparency and Integrity Hub providing more information for the public. It now includes council procurement data and will provide greater transparency on council expenditure for local businesses and the wider Ipswich community.

“I am proud of what we have achieved so far with the hub, but it does not stop here. We will continue to expand the information available and give ratepayers unprecedented access to the city’s finances,” she said.

Ms Stephensen (pictured below), managing director of Ipswich-based privacy consultancy Ground Up, was featured twice in yesterday’s Smart Cities awards, for her professional leadership in the category shared with Mayor Harding and through extensive acknowledgement from City of Darwin Council for her role in spearheading its privacy program.

“I am pleased I have been able to assist local governments to harness the opportunities posed by privacy best-practice, such as better decision-making and enhanced community trust,” she said.

Ipswich recently benefited from Ms Stephensen’s expertise in her completion of the privacy impact assessment for council’s award-winning Transparency and Integrity Hub.

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