By Matt Oxlade / LGAQ Innovation Lead
The LGAQ is excited to launch the first innovation hub dedicated to delivering digital solutions to solve councils’ biggest problems.
The LGAQ Lab is a place for councils and innovators to come together to improve the digital maturity of every council in Queensland and co-create digital solutions to the challenges faced in regions of all sizes.
Why an innovation lab?
The 2020 Digital Productivity Report found that 95 per cent of councils see value in adopting digital technologies but faced a number of challenges in making it a reality.
We heard that councils struggle to implement digital projects due to lack of funding, unclear return on investment and insufficient regional skill sets. These challenges are even more significant for regional and Indigenous councils with lower population bases, but the common factor in every council was a desire to improve digital maturity.
At the LGAQ, we know councils are by nature and necessity innovative, and the LGAQ Lab is a place for that innovative spirit to work to deliver even better outcomes.
About the space
Located on the ground floor of Local Government House (25 Evelyn Street, Newstead [Brisbane]) the LGAQ Lab is a dedicated space that is designed to inspire new ways of working and thinking differently.
The Lab has been funded through the Industry Development Fund (IDF). Telstra and LocalBuy make ongoing contributions to the IDF to improve the digital maturity of Queensland councils and, thanks to the support of our contributing partners, the LGAQ Lab is now a reality.
The LGAQ Lab is split into two spaces: ‘Show Them’ and ‘Help Them’. The Show Them space is dedicated to showcasing innovation projects, allowing councils to go hands-on with emerging technology and learn more about what our partners at Telstra and LocalBuy have available.
The Help Them space is a multi-use environment that offers dedicated spaces for working. We privately toured Google, Meta (parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), Salesforce and more to find out how leading digital companies worked, and implemented those ideas at the LGAQ Lab.
The incubate area is an open area for agile working, either independently or in a small group. The concentrate area is a collection of eight hot desks beside a dynamic vertical display that showcases how councils currently utilise digital solutions and what their greatest needs are in the digital space. The presentation area allows councils, industry leaders and other LGAQ partners to present both to those physically in the Lab and also remotely using Google Meet.
While the LGAQ Lab only opened in November 2022, we couldn’t wait to start delivering projects for councils with the help of the IDF.
The LGAQ Lab has developed custom scripts into Google Assistant speakers to answer some of the frequently asked questions about councils. This project demonstrates how councils could use the technology to improve automations, such as booking spaces at a local library or improving communication with residents, such as responding with what’s on in the user’s area. You can go hands-on with our custom Google Assistant app in the LGAQ Lab.
AI Flood Detection Cameras
The LGAQ Lab has also delivered a project that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect flooding over roads. For example, when flooding is detected using a provided road camera, a designated council officer in Carpentaria Shire will receive an email notification advising that the road is flooded. This saves the council officer an eight-hour round-trip to undertake a manual inspection of the road in this remote community. The AI model that has been developed is 98.6 per cent accurate in detecting flooding over any road and is currently deployed in Carpentaria Shire Council with additional councils joining the pilot in early 2023.
The LGAQ Lab will hold ‘campfire events’ throughout 2023 that will share digital expertise between participants. We will bring together industry partners, councils, not-for-profits, university students and other digital professionals in the LGAQ Lab to share expertise and thought leadership in the innovation space. We have a stacked line-up already, so if you’re interested in attending any digital development events, either physically or online, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LGAQ Lab is open and ready for councils, not-for-profits, university students, local businesses and others to come together and co-create the next big digital solution to benefit Queensland communities. There are flexible spaces for people to casually meet, hold campfire events, hot desk, step away for some quiet time and, most importantly, form organic relationships. We can’t wait to see you in the LGAQ Lab soon.