The advent of smart cities has brought with it the promise of ubiquitous connectivity and the automation of data capture and flows. The assumption is that somehow this will improve efficiency and quality of life in our cities. However, that is not a given and requires thoughtful engagement and a citizen focus to ensure that smart city policies benefit all. Testing and experimentation become important steps to ensure that the technology that is being deployed in cities is fit for purpose and delivers upon the intended outcomes.
Living labs have proven to be immensely popular approaches to test ideas and solutions in real-time, in real places. They provide opportunity for collaboration between communities, businesses and government that is centred on creativity, innovation and collaboration. Delos Delta, an Australian business specialised in smart city and digital transformation, has been working on the development of a living lab blueprint to facilitate the implementation of these initiatives in Australia. As part of this effort they sponsored a visit by Rasmus Bertelsen, Special Advisor at the Copenhagen Solutions Lab, to Australia.
Living Lab Expertise from Copenhagen
In Brisbane, a number of representatives from OASC member cities including Ipswich, Logan and Brisbane attended Rasmus’ presentation at the Queensland University of Technology on 10 July 2018.
Rasmus shared the experience of Copenhagen in opening up the cityscape to shared smart city technology experimentation and how they have structured the programs and activities of the Copenhagen Solutions Lab. Covering aspects such as governance, co-creation, pipeline planning and connecting their efforts with a network of labs across Denmark, Rasmus’ presentation provided invaluable insights on how to model living lab initiatives.
Some of the key learnings that Rasmus shared with those in attendance include being clear about the overall need and strategy for the living lab, establish a pipeline for ideas and solutions, and having a focus on real world challenges. Rasmus also gave great insight into Copenhagen Solutions Lab’s approach and the need be prepared to fail (and document why), the need to provide structure to innovation efforts and the role they played as a facilitator of a diverse group of stakeholders.
Knowledge exchange: Sharing is caring
One of the great examples given was of attempt to introduce parking sensors in Copenhagen and how through experimentation they quickly realised that modelling of parking algorithms yielded far more effective results than real-time data capture.
Attendees of the workshop with Rasmus benefitted from the experiences of others as the concept of living labs starts to gain traction in Australia. In implementing large scale civic innovation experiments, there are many pitfalls that can be avoided by heeding the lessons that others have learned by trial, including those that limit the openness and access to smart technologies and data.
In the City of Logan, we have recently endorsed our City Futures Strategy which sets the direction for innovation and the introduction of smart technology. The approach is predicated on building a culture of innovation, inspiring confidence in the citizenry, creating meaningful connections between stakeholders and building the innovation capacity of City staff and citizens. Introducing living labs to Logan is a key element to succeeding in the delivery of the City Futures Strategy, transforming the cityscape into an open-air participative experiment for the benefit of the City and its citizens.
Logan City Council joined the OASC in June 2017.
About the author
Ricardo Martello is the City Futures Manager at Logan City Council responsible for leading the innovation and smart agenda for the City of Logan. With qualifications in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Urban Development and Sustainability and Natural Resource Economics, Ricardo has experience in the private and public sector in both Australia and overseas.
Watch Rasmus’ presentation at the Queensland University of Technology