Wellington’s progress toward a Smart City is too slow and if you were to score it, it would probably achieve a C minus. The Wellington Smart City plans are long on rhetoric and short on action. Full of buzz phrases and waffly words with no hard initiatives.
The Digital Strategy appears to have not progressed a great deal since its creation and needs to be revisited given its age. The actions in that strategy, yes there are actions, have no owner, no date, and have seen little progress. The Digital Strategy does list some of the issues that Wellington faces in terms of infrastructure.
The wider Smart City plan, if we can call it that, appears to have suffered from a heavy impact from the hard left Greens. We see a real slant in wording and content to mitigate our impact on the environment rather than a balanced view which takes all of the various aspects of a Smart City into account. The only action of recent days, as an example, has been the Council insulating some of its properties. Again, a good thing to do, however, passing this off as progress on a Smart City plan, is disingenuous.
Wellington needs to refresh its plans recognising that a Smart City is effectively a complex organism that needs to be treated holistically.
The city needs to establish an effective working group of residents that is centrist, a good cross section, and without political interference to start thinking on practical actions toward a Smart City. The solutions aspects of a Smart City, particularly around ICT, can be brought to augment that working group.
The city needs to understand that this is not a thirty-year plan, that this is a critical programme that needs to progress now, and with haste. We are already seeing Christchurch leading the pack with their Smart City thinking, and let’s be honest, there is an element of competitiveness to this work. If we want to attract small, agile, high-tech business to Wellington we need to create an environment that is better than other cities.
The areas that have been covered are not in good shape. Our public transport is aged, inefficient, costly, unreliable, and an overall unpleasant experience. Utilising Smart City technology could help to get people back on that service.
The roads are increasingly congested and again, with the promotion of ICT infrastructure, free wireless, real-time data, and working from home we can significantly change that. The way that public transport, general transport, and pedestrians have to navigate an increasingly ridiculous, highly regulated, with safety sign pollution abundant, in the central city is ludicrous. We need to look at how Smart Cities create smart, shared spaces.
Democracy must be increasingly transparent rather than the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Council style where the planning documents are located in an abandoned house, in the basement, with no stairs, locked in a filing cabinet and guarded by a tiger. The Council needs to implement technology that allows for a one hundred percent transparent consultation process. The Council must release all of its data in an open format onto some kind of Community Cloud in order to drive innovation and creation of Smart Apps.
We must create ubiquitous, free, high quality, high speed internet connectivity for all residents everywhere.
We have to have action plans to allow our city to adapt to climate change rather than burying our head in the sand and thinking that the answer to the problem is lower emissions.
The opportunity is extensive. The actions are low cost, simple, and proven effective overseas.
Finally, we need leadership. We suffer a terrible lack of it within the city. We do have a choice in the upcoming elections and we need to vote for people who are going to look to the future, are natural leaders, and will fight for Wellington’s Smart City future.