Innovation, Smart Cities and research and development

Agristart managing director and co-founder Natasha Ayers at the Wanneroo Jobs Summit 2018.

Banner-LogoHOW can the City of Wanneroo lead innovation and support job growth within the Smart Cities context? This is the third part of a feature on the Wanneroo Jobs Summit 2018. The City of Wanneroo welcomes your feedback and comments.


Smart City initiatives globally are aiming to make cities more competitive, resilient and sustainable amidst rapid population growth, whilst designing new and improved solutions for residents as they go about their daily lives.

In line with this objective, the Australian Federal Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme is providing funding support for two City of Wanneroo related projects:

  • RailSmart Planning Wanneroo aims at improving urban planning in Metronet extension suburbs of Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep;
  • Yellagonga Regional Park, where smart technology will be used to improve efficiencies in the Park’s environmental monitoring and public use.

Innovation lies at the heart of the Smart Cities ethos.

As data is freed up, and made openly accessible, tech-solution forerunners are able to draw from it for research and development and ultimately introduce unique solutions to solve diverse urban challenges.

The City of Wanneroo’s population growth has slowed over the last 3 years but is projected to reach 412,000 by 2041.

Taking a proactive approach, the City has set a target of creating 100,000 jobs to accommodate this growth.

The recent Jobs Summit on 7 June highlighted key economic base industries (such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade amongst others) as opportunities for our economic growth and most especially, job creation.

With advancing technologies causing disruptive shifts across whole business sectors, including the above highlighted base industries, it’s clear we also need to understand how jobs themselves are shifting – and how this applies directly to our local setting.

To lead innovation in a Smart Cities context here at home, we can look to examples of smart tech solutions being rolled out in other centres around the world.

For example, in downtown Shanghai, Yangpu is a locality where history and tradition sit alongside innovation.

Once overshadowed by heavy industry, Yangpu is now a commerce and hi-tech hub.

This Yangpu Innovation Zone extends over 463 hectares and is home to roughly 100,000 residents.

Various subway lines and other public transit mechanisms run through it, and its northern district also plays host to three of China’s most notable universities.

Yangpu has 20 technology parks inhabited by 6,700 start-ups.

What’s more, the district reported 8.1% economic growth in 2016.

This was 1.3% greater than Shanghai’s GDP growth that same year.

For Wanneroo to do similarly and create a smart-economy growth hub to fit our local context, three key themes touched upon by thought leaders at 7 June’s Job Summit, can verifiably lead us in the right direction.

  • Urgent upskilling & Lifelong Learning

New smart farming, intelligent manufacturing, and digitisation of construction and other industries is where jobs are heading fast.  The Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived.  With it, online connectivity and intelligence is being wired and built into everyday objects and structures allowing them to ‘think smart’.

Much like our digital smartphones evolved from corded telephones, the same principle is being rolled out across the object-spectrum for increased efficiencies.  This development is transforming industry.  It is affecting tools and processes and along with it, the nature of work as we know it.

With Wanneroo’s unemployment at 8.6%, and 1 in 5 unemployed people staying on benefits for over 5 years, along with youth unemployment at 17% – we actually have an incredible opportunity.

Upskilling our underutilised residents to participate in new-economy jobs and instilling a life-long learning ethos in our community presents a solution to unemployment.  It also positions Wanneroo to make big strides towards reaching its new jobs target – whilst leading the charge with innovation.

  • An innovation ecosystem that attracts global resources

Wanneroo will need to compete on a global stage to attract talent, inward investment partners and knowledge capital.  To do this, a focused campaign which positions Wanneroo’s point of difference as a world class living and working environment, offering pristine coastlines, enviable climate, first world infrastructure and a culture set on innovative growth – is essential.

Strategic targeting of innovators whose work is showcased in smart industry solutions around the world, as well as building proactive partnerships with ‘next wave’ focused international businesses in sectors relevant to our local context will help set the stage.  Industries such as agribusiness, construction – or even aged care – where the City of Wanneroo can become a nationally referenced smart-solutions hotbed.

  • A collaborative platform on which economic development can thrive

Collaboration is critical to the success of any smart cities ecosystem.  The ethos of Smart Cities rests on advancing a flexible, open and integrated approach across, government, private enterprise, educational institutions, startups and everyday citizens.  We are all stakeholders who need to play a role in knowledge sharing to create innovative and sustainable solutions.

Whilst many challenges face Wanneroo, there are opportunities which easily outweigh the difficulties.

The resources available to us across our City’s 685 square kilometre footprint are staggering.

Our diverse landscape boasts urban and rural areas, bushland, wetlands along with 32 kilometres of unspoilt coastline.

Through asking the right questions, forging strategic partnerships and investing in innovative solutions, we can co-create a unique and smart Wanneroo and lead the way in designing a better future.

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