Skip to main content

In October last year, the City of Canterbury Bankstown published the Draft Smart CBCity Roadmap and recommended an extended exhibition period of 9 months. The document was well-received by our Councillors, but most surprisingly the document was recognised all around the world as a best practice Smart Cities Strategy, propelling the City of Canterbury Bankstown forward as a leader in the Smart Cities space.

No alt text provided for this image

After extensive consultation, Im chuffed to now be able to share the new and improved Smart CBCity Roadmap. Changes are minimal and the bare bones remain somewhat the same. You could say weve simply refined and improved it after extensive consultation with industry experts and our community. We also updated some areas as weve learned along our own smart journey, perhaps one of the best outcomes from such a lengthy consultation.

Here are some of the defining concepts included in our Smart CBCity Roadmap:

  • 1 x definition: Helping our community, Councillors and staff navigate and understand smart cities;
  • 12 x guiding Smart City Principles: Guiding all of our decision making and investment;
  • 3 x Smart Pillars: Ensuring we remain outcome focused with the projects we take on;
  • 3 x phased project prioritisation framework: Allowing consistency and smart investment across the Council. Theres a tool that sits behind this to support. This isnt currently available for public download, but Im happy to share;
  • 7 x project management steps: Forming a united approach to managing Smart Cities projects in our City;
  • 6 x phases to becoming a Smart City: Ensuring clarity, accountability, shared responsibility and in some ways, managing expectations.

As much as we try to strategise and align, there are always differing viewpoints on how to actually become a Smarter City. One thing weve remained absolutely unanimous in though, is the need to make our work open and share. So please, take this document and iterate it for the humans you serve. All I ask is that you return the favour by opening up your work, or sharing your iterations with us so that we can truly innovate. Competition as public servants will get us nowhere. Its the fate of Australias future in our hands, and I for one want to see all 537 Councils in Australia empowered and supported to build the communities of the future.

  1. The DRAFT Smart CBCity Roadmap. Endorsed by Council in October 2018 and put to formal community consultation for 9 months, this was our first iteration of the Smart CBCity Roadmap. This document has now been tweaked and is replaced by;
  2. The adopted Smart CBCity Roadmap. Endorsed unanimously at the September Council meeting, this document is our adopted Smart Cities Roadmap guiding action, investment, engagement and approach.

I understand its not the normal approach, and Im usually flooded with questions whenever I talk about the Roadmap. In the interest of being as informative as possible, Ive tried to answer some of the frequently asked questions about the process and reasoning below. If you have any other questions, please dont hesitate to leave them in the comments below and Ill do my best to respond

Who wrote the strategy for Council?

No consultants were harmed in the making. This strategy was written entirely in house by yours truly (Petrhyce Donovan) and the Director of City Future, James Carey. We worked closely with our Mayor, Khal Asfour and community to bring their vision for a smart city to life. Our FutureCITY panel of technical experts also provided significant comments along with the incredibly engaged staff at the City of Canterbury Bankstown Council.

The very beginning stages of this document (before I was appointed) involved the Director of City Future sitting in a room with our community and technical experts, armed with knowledge, a vision and a google doc up on screen, he facilitated a session for core stakeholders to simply start, just getting the ideas down and co-creating. The document continued to evolve in Google docs and was open to comment by anyone.

A month or so passed, I was appointed to the role and got straight to work having conversations and contextualising some of the feedback. I spent a great deal of time further refining the concepts and methodologies then put the document (understanding it would evolve over time) to Council for an extended exhibition period.


Why did you go out to consultation for 9 months?

Our Mayor, Khal Asfour is deeply passionate about digital equity and not creating a digital divide, going so far as to making a commitment early in our journey not to leave anyone behind. In addition, Im incredibly aware that theres a multitude of things we need to do behind the scenes in order to even be ready for smart city investment… Policy, platforms, technical infrastructure, data lakes, culture building and change management – all the really unsexy stuff that plays an absolutely vital role in building a smart city. Finally, these concepts are new, and they take some time to explain. I wanted to ensure we genuinely had time to talk with our community rather than simply tick the box of community consultation.

So with this in mind, I made the call to put the Smart CBCity Roadmap out to consultation for 9 months. In addition to the early informal consultation, this meant that there was a solid 12 months of collaborating, co-creating and conversing with our community. So when it came time for me to report the findings at the September Council meeting, every single elected representative could confidently say: “We really listened to our community on this, and weve built a roadmap to design a future that meets their needs.”


What was the thinking behind developing a Roadmap instead of a strategy?

Generally speaking, I dont love large silver bullet style strategies. I find more often than not, they sit on a shelf. Strategies and work plans for small teams are great, but for a staff of more than 1,500 and a community of more than 340,000 we needed something more flexible. Technology, data and connectivity is moving at such a rapid pace that a strategy would unnecessarily lock us into potentially obsolete technologies and concepts. What we were seeking was far more of an approach than a hard and fast list of things to do. Thus, the Roadmap was born.

My reflection one year on… In October 2018, I pulled together a list of projects to accompany the Smart CBCity Roadmap. Looking back at that list of projects now, its really interesting to see how far the City of Canterbury Bankstowns maturity has grown and how fast the technology has changed. A roadmap rather than a strategy wasnt the normal thing to do at the time, but Im so glad we did because its given us the flexibility to pivot and move as we need to in order to keep up with technology. Something a strategy would not have allowed.


Whats changed with the new document?

As a result of the consultation the following changes to the Draft Smart CBCity Roadmap have been undertaken and reflected in the document:

Our definition of a Smart City:

Our original definitionwas using technology infrastructure, community engagements and connectivity to evolve our City and make real improvements. Our consultation demonstrated the need to simplify this, hence the definition has now been amended tousing technology, connectivity and data to evolve our City and make real improvements.


The 11thSmart City Principle:

Originally this principle was titled business, but our consultation efforts revealed the term business was too restrictive and we may have oversimplified. As a result, the principle has now been renamed to industry to include creative enterprises, social entrepreneurs, not for profits and other innovative groups in our local area.


The Smart Pillars:

Whilst our pillars have remained the same, a greater level of detail around how these pillars are put into practice have been included in the form of emerging opportunities. Originally, we had a complimentary project attachment to the Roadmap, but we found the iterative nature of Smart Cities concepts meant this document became dated and obsolete at a rapid pace. Conversations with our community revealed people generally understood the pillars, but wanted a tangible example of how this might be applied in a practical use case scenario. The emerging opportunities are not commitments for our Council to investigate or deliver, rather useful examples to help understand the pillars.


Smart Process:

Originally, policy was accounted for within the Platforms, plans, policies and procedures category. Our experience as we continue to progress our efforts have demonstrated that policy plays an important role, not just internally, but also at a national level. Much of the work of the Smart Cities team has been working in close partnership with the federal and state governments to progress policy initiatives. Unfortunately, legislation and policy moves at a much slower rate and has limited ability to keep up with the iterative nature of Smart Cities, hence the importance for overarching and broad policy that supports innovation and progress. As a result, a new category Policy that supports progress has now been included as its own category under the Smart Process pillar.


Things to do:

In the draft Smart CBCity Roadmap, we had identified a list of things we need to do. These were categorised by

  • To do now;
  • To do next; and
  • Things we will get to.

As we progress through our Smart Cities journey, we have identified a phased approach which maintains and categorises all the things we need to do but further contextualises them into a maturity model. As a result, this section has now been renamed to The six phases and includes:

1. Get a clear idea

2. Build momentum

3. Get the house in order

4. Experiment, learn, apply & scale

5. Mobilise the troops; and

6. Hit the open road


The Smart Conductor:

Staff engagement and practical use of the concepts in the Draft Smart CBCity Roadmap demonstrated a heavy focus on our external stakeholders and constituents, but was missing a core element of collaboration staff. As a result we have now rectified and added staff to the stakeholders or players in the band to create a Smart City.


Whats the next step for the Smart CBCity Roadmap?

The final concept of the Roadmap is called the Smart Conductor, and quite possibly the key to our early success in the space. Smart projects shouldnt be completed in isolation from the rest of the business and Ive worked really hard over the past year to build a shared sense of accountability from all corners of our public service. Im not interested in building out a huge team, in fact Ive released many of my staffing resources back into the BAU parts of the organisation to assist with transformation. My team works solely on the strategic alignment of our efforts and assisting existing experts in the Council to do smart things.

The next step for the Smart CBCity Roadmap is a major implementation piece by the technology and IT teams to support the core infrastructure needed to make our city a future-ready one.

Additionally, theres a great deal of work, being led and supported by my team in experimenting, learning, applying and scaling, partnering with subject matter experts in the Council. This part of the journey has truly been an honour to witness… Seeing people push beyond the status quo, advocate for excellence, show our organisation and community the art of possible and most importantly, be absolutely chuffed when they pull it off!


I know a great number of you reading will have had something to do with the Smart CBCity Roadmap at some point in time, so thank you for your valuable contributions. How about a virtual round of applause for all of the incredible people that made the Smart CBCity Roadmap the shared success it is

Published by

Petrhyce Donovan, Innovation & Smart City Manager at Canterbury Bankstown Council

You can find the original article here:

Leave a Reply