Centre for Civic Innovation to build digitally engaged communities

Australia’s peak smart cities body has announced the establishment of the Centre for Civic Innovation, an initiative to drive digitally engaged communities in Australia. Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand (SCCANZ) Executive Director Adam Beck announced the initiative in Adelaide as part of Open State SA, a festival of innovation, collaboration, ideas and enterprise.

“The Centre for Civic Innovation has been launched to nurture a new mindset and practice of building digitally engaged communities, and embracing the value that data plays in helping us engage and unlock the wisdom of the community and other stakeholders” according to Adam Beck. “When our communities are digitally engaged our reach can be deep, and this builds greater democracy, the ability to participate and therefore capacity to innovate.” Beck says.

Also announced was the Centre’s Chair, Amanda Newbery, Founder and Executive Director of Articulous, a firm focused on building the capacity of government to digitally engage with its citizens. Of the announcement, Newbery said “the Centre for Civic Innovation aspires to be a democratic agent for change, and presents an exciting opportunity to use digital to scale innovation within our cities and to build better ways to digitally engage with citizens.”

“Digital enables us to respond to the community’s desire to participate.” says Amelia Loye, one of the Centre’s two Co-Vice Chair’s, and Managing Director of engage2, a consultancy helping government understand, engage and work with communities to enhance representative democracy. “Digital engagement makes it easier for people to participate in their communities and democracy, and when data from citizens and businesses is analysed and considered by government, the representativeness and legitimacy of governments is increased.” says Loye.

And this is the foundation for building better, smarter communities explained Jessica Christiansen-Franks, the Centre’s other Co-Vice Chair, and CEO of the start-up Neighbourlytics, a social analytics platform for neighbourhood development. “While we know social value is critical in making places that thrive, it can be hard to articulate and measure. But digital technologies can help us connect with and understand local people, enabling better urban development decisions, and ultimately stronger communities.” Christiansen-Franks says. 

A key function of the Centre will be to build the capacity and capability of government and industry, and stimulate and accelerate dialogue around the role of technology, data and intelligent design in engaging stakeholders. Adam Beck added that “shaping research and development opportunities that advance the practice of digitally engaging stakeholders is of interest, as well as identifying the necessary resources that will help build capacity and capability to advance this agenda.”

Expressions of interest from government and industry stakeholders to participate on the committee for the Centre are now being called for, with further information available at: http://bit.ly/2xUlmrO



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