Ipswich has been lauded for being part of The Internet of Cities, for taking if From Revolution to Renaissance, and being a Revolutionary Community.

Further back, it was the City’s Proud Past and Exciting Future, and its Platforms for Innovation which attracted global recognition.

This week, the City of Ipswich was again announced as one of the most intelligent communities in the world, masterminding a new theme of Humanising Data.

For the sixth time since 2010, this proud regional city of Queensland has made it on the world stage as one of the Smart21, as chosen by think-tank Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).

Yet again, Ipswich is up against some of the “brainiac” smart cities from the USA, Europe, the UK, China, India … and a couple from a bit closer to home, the Sunshine Coast and Adelaide, in a bid to crack the ICF Top7.

“Data has become the heartbeat of the new economy and the lifeblood of smart public policy in the 21st Century,” according to the ICF.

“Two words born in the mid-1990s still shape our understanding of data’s central role.

“Whether Big, Open or both, data has become the beating heart of business and government.

“By fuelling a better-informed society, it supports human hopes and human potential.  It is valuable when it contributes to prosperity, knowledge, safety, cultural richness and greater collaboration, and it is threatening when directed to lesser goals.”

With this in mind, Ipswich City Council was asked to provide examples of open data programs in the community that benefit the health, welfare and safety of residents; that have led to business opportunities for individual entrepreneurs or established companies in the community; and served to attract inward opportunity to the community, whether tourists and visitors, employers seeking to locate there, or financial investment.

Council focused on several areas of its Smart City Program.

Naeus Explore App

This product is a result of Council’s Works, Parks and Recreation Department seeding a challenge to create increased engagement with the city’s nature reserves and conservation estates.

They provided the challenge with an array of accompanying data and expert insight to the community via an Application Studio Hackathon weekend at accelerator hub Fire Station 101.

Two local entrepreneur brothers presented a mobile app that uses image recognition technology to identify native plants to enable users to unearth the rich ecosystem of plants and animals in their own backyard or while on hikes in the wider conservation estates across Ipswich.

Tim and Jeremy Butler used their backgrounds in IT, web design and development, as well as their experience of living in Ipswich to develop this idea: “The technology is at the right time. With machine learning, you can essentially train a system to recognise any photo-based object,” Tim said.

Health Living Lab

This enables the community to actively address regional health issues through collaborative studies in human health and wellness behaviours using advanced technologies such as big data and analytics.

Ipswich has a convergence of factors which make it an ideal test-bed for health related initiatives. Health is the region’s second largest industry with more than 13 per cent of the population employed in the health care and social assistance sectors. Ipswich residents have particularly low health indicators in areas such as diabetes, coronary disease, obesity and smoking.

The initial aim of Health Living Lab is to initiate one major study program in 2018 with the regional hospital, private health providers, health insurance providers and health technology companies. Researchers and the innovation community will analyse the data to collaborate on testing a wide range of hypothesis to assess the impact of interventions on the health issue.

The long term objectives are to establish an ongoing program of work which increases health and healthy behaviours in the region and creates health solutions for Queensland.

Advancing Regional Innovation Program

This $1 million collaboration – launched in Ipswich last month by State Government Minister Leeanne Enoch – aims to create sustainable pathways for any entrepreneur to give it a go.

The dual focus is on TAFE and high school entrepreneurs with a strong industry engagement with 10 sector-specific accelerator programs that will utilise open government data and corporate data to tap into new opportunities for economic outcomes.

The program builds on existing investments in the Ipswich Smart City Program, including the Open Data Platform, to attract new investment opportunities for practical outcomes. Council is not only creating new entrepreneurs, but building a sustainable innovation ecosystem across Ipswich

The three-year program will commence in Ipswich TAFE in 2018.

Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative

Council has joined with the Queensland Government to run Australia’s largest cooperative intelligent transport system program, including real-world trialling and large-scale deployment.

The Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI) will validate the safety impacts and benefits of cooperative vehicles, publicly demonstrate technologies, increase technology uptake and readiness and encourage partnerships which build public and private sector capabilities.

Council further aims to extend the partnerships and technology developed through CAVI to a dedicated trial of autonomous electric vehicles used for public transport with a focus on routes and areas with either a particularly high car volume or low connectivity.

By delivering the connected infrastructure network required to facilitate such a large scale trial of cooperative intelligent transport, Ipswich will be generating data unparalleled in Australia and perhaps the southern hemisphere.

 The first connected cooperative vehicles are scheduled to be on the streets of Ipswich in late 2018 or early 2019.

Pilot Precincts

Three locations will be used as test-beds for technology and platforms, new solutions and opportunities to be implemented, assessed and scaled in quick time, including:

  • Water, waste and lighting management
  • Predictive and automated precinct maintenance(including SAM, the smart autonomous mower located at North Ipswich Reserve)
  • Solar energy, integrated batteries and micro-grid technology
  • Video analytics for Safe City and traffic management

The digital technology implemented in the precincts is not only testing new operational and management solutions, but they are generating new data relating to climate, noise, air quality, traffic, parking, maintenance requirements, water usage, electricity usage, facility usage, WiFi usage, pedestrian flow and pedestrian demographics.

This data is being fed into the Smart City Data Platform and being opened up to the public and potential partners, with more than $2 million in new digital technology solutions in use.

Open Data Gov Hack

Ipswich City Council is now ‘open by default’. Wherever possible, data used and collected by Council will be published online, with an open licence, as open data.

When the Council procures products and services which are delivered by other organisations, and which result in new data being generated, Council will encourage that these data assets fall within the scope of the open data policy as well.

The Smart City Data Platform and open data standard contributes to the economic, social and environmental growth of the region.

It create opportunities for local businesses, schools, entrepreneurs and policy makers to innovate using Ipswich City data, including to help the Council inform its own workers and providing improved services.

Council’s Open Data Gov Hack event, the first of a quarterly series, was a perfect example, held at accelerator hub Fire Station 101 over three days and attended by 52 students, entrepreneurs and start-ups from all over South East Queensland.

What happens next

Ipswich now has the chance to be selected from the Smart21 finalists, including cities from the USA, Canada, France and Finland, to become one of the Forum’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year.

Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said gaining a place among the Smart21 is considered a badge of honour as well as the first step to greater recognition as an Intelligent Community positioned to prosper in the broadband economy.

“The theme of the 2018 program is Humanising Data.  It provides the City of Ipswich with an opportunity to report on its achievements in Big Data and Open Data,” Cr Antoniolli said.

Cr Antoniolli said these open data programs were helping to improve the health, welfare and safety of Ipswich residents, as well as leading to business opportunities for individual entrepreneurs and established companies.

“Ipswich has been leading the way for several years in humanising big data and open data and creating opportunities along the way for the city and its people to continue to grow,” he said.

The Top 7 Intelligent Communities would be named in February, with the Intelligent Community of the Year announced in mid-2018.

The Intelligent Community Forum is a global network with a think tank at its centre. It connects hundreds of cities and regions on five continents for collaboration on economic development and for exchange of expertise and information that drives progress.

Through this network, ICF researches how Intelligent Communities use information and communications technology to build inclusive prosperity, solve social problems and enrich their quality of life in our connected century.

Ipswich was selected for the Smart21 in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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