Posted by Davina Jackson on 21 Aug 2013

Business development think-tank The Committee for Sydney has launched a suite of ideas to encourage government and community investment in digital communications for ‘Australia’s only global city’.

Committee chair Lucy Hughes Turnbull claimed ‘we need to increase Sydney’s metropolitan IQ’ … to manage the challenges of Greater Sydney (beyond local government boundaries and electorate politics).

The committee’s second issues paper, we the city: Collaborating to Compete in the Digital Era, claims the international cities which are ‘doing best’ are combining familiar forms of governance and cross-sector collaborations with networking, community engagement and urban innovation on new digital platforms.

Suggestions for Sydney include:

> establish a Sydney Policy Unit,

> appoint a Digital Champion for the whole of Sydney,

> promote a network of wireless hotspots,

> develop a digital platform to engage the whole of Sydney in decision and plan-making,

> promote a Greater Sydney open data centre.

> co-ordinate and consolidate the various modelling tools for Sydney,

> develop a ‘digital inclusion’ campaign.

The issues paper promoted case studies of digital innovations in eight international cities, including New York, Busan (South Korea), Portland (Oregon, US), Barcelona, and Chattanooga (Tennessee, US), as well as Britain’s appointment of dotcom travel pioneer Martha Lane-Fox as ‘UK Digital Inclusion Champion’. Australian advances were also highlighted in Melbourne, Adelaide, City of Sydney, the UTS/South Sydney creative precinct and Parramatta.

The report was sponsored by communications hardware vendor Cisco via its Internet Business Solutions Group, which has a memorandum of understanding with international engineers Arup (employing the Committee for Sydney’s CEO, Dr Tim Williams), to co-operate to increase both companies’ sales to city governments. Senior executives of both companies have been collaborating since 2006 to dissuade public sector leaders in Australia and other countries from supporting proposals (launched by NICTA and the NSW Government in 2008) to establish a ‘national and global digital cities research network’. Both companies work independently with world-leading digital cities research teams.