Updating processes that have been in place for years can be an overwhelming prospect for local government. So where should you start? Residents’ biggest pain points. Is the garbage pickup always late? Traffic lights not timed properly?
The next step is to tackle the identified problems head-on by taking inspiration from cities and towns throughout Australia — and many right in Queensland — that have paved the way and achieved impressive results.
Public works & transit digital services
While fixing transportation issues as a whole can eat up an entire year’s budget (or more!), a number of localities are making smarter improvements by using data to inform their decisions. Brisbane, QLD, for example, noticed a need to improve traffic flow, so it turned to Bluetooth monitors to collect data on vehicle speeds and congestion. Real-time data is then used to customize message boards with traffic times and preferred routes, as well as deploy police and emergency personnel in response to accidents. The Sunshine Coast, QLD also put data to good use by providing real-time information on upcoming road projects. To get out information about construction projects to residents before they leave the house, the Sunshine Coast’s Works Hub allows users to discover work descriptions, timelines, and impacts on local traffic.
Smart lighting & sensors
The environmental impact of energy consumption is top of mind for many cities. But if you can come up with a program that has environmental benefits and cost savings — that’s a win-win. The City of Darwin accomplished just that when it introduced Switching on Darwin, a smart lighting initiative, in November 2018.
Switching on Darwin was completed in record time (May 2019) and included the installation of over 900 smart LED street lights, plus 138 CCTV cameras, an expanded free public Wi-Fi network, sensors to monitor climate and environmental data, and smart parking and mobility sensors. The new lighting efficiencies saved the city upwards of $600,000 in just the first twelve months.
Recycling & waste management
Waste management is one of those services that no one thinks twice about when done right, but when something goes wrong, citizens notice. Beyond making sure services are provided in a timely manner, there is also a greater spotlight on recycling. Woollahra, NSW identified a growing e-waste recycling problem. Their solution? An e-waste program that allows a household to book services via an app. Collection occurs in as little as one business day and collected electronics are processed for parts and sent to community partners. Now, remember: not every use case will be applicable to your city or town, but for those that are, take heed of lessons learned by other localities. With the right data and a willingness to uncover new ways to tackle old problems, local governments can drive innovation and build better communities.
Lindsay Pica-Alfano co-founded Govlaunch, the wiki for local government innovation. Search over 2500 crowdsourced projects and contribute what your community is doing to innovate using our free tools at https://govlaunch.com.