Celebrating A Commitment To Collaborative Change
I write this letter still being astonished by how much we, Sydney-siders, have accomplished in only thirty-five years. Still, it is on this anniversary of our decision, as a community, to work together to create a successful, resilient collaborative society and economy, that I’m moved to write this letter to you, the Sydney-siders of 2015, who took it upon yourselves to Commit to Collaborative Change.
Firstly let me say: Congratulations! You are poised on a precipice, which saw you facing potential calamity: economically, ecologically and emotionally as divisions were increasingly, insidiously, making their way into the social norms of our, most beautiful, city.
Congratulations! You took stock of what might be and decided that, instead, you – as Citizen Endusers and as a city – would commit to working together to create a future, which worked with and for everyone who had, has and will have the opportunity to live here.
Making the decision to Commit to Collaborative Change was not easy, and certainly not something done lightly. It was clear from the outset that the commitment would mean that each member of the community would have to play an important part. As individuals and in groups, we were compelled to become engaged in all aspects of the life within our city which, prior to this, had been left as the purview of ‘others’, regardless of whether those perceived ‘others’ were governmental or NGO affiliations who had been, more often than not, left to their own devices.
Our decision to embrace collaborative change brought with it a responsibility to engage – with each other and with our representatives. The responsibilities were equally intangible – seen in the way we thought about ourselves, each other, and our relationship with our city – and intangible; there were things that needed to be done and we agreed to be accountable for them, together.
A Smart City That Engaged And Empowered All Its Communities And Citizens
The beginning came about with a realisation by our elected leaders that their relationship with us, their Citizen Endusers, was becoming ever more fraught and fractious. We were entering the era of the global DACE (Digital, Attention and Collaboration Economies) and yet it was only a fraction of us, at that time, who were able to truly engage and empower ourselves using the tools, technologies and techniques which had promised to engender positive change for everyone. What was necessary was the infrastructure to enable and empower the simple, secure accessibility of all of these applications so that each Citizen Enduser and Enduser group could make the most out of the opportunities promised.
We began the change with a number of trial projects, which are now central to the heart of the Sydney Community-Suite Spots underlying tools, technologies and infrastructure with which we live and thrive. Their numbers and uses are myriad, but perhaps those that shine brightest – as they bring positive outcomes to us each and every one of us on a daily basis – continue to include:
- Tax breaks and grants, in place to support the innovative, capitalised research, which plays an integral part in city-wide construction of the extremely energy efficient structures we both live and work in.
- Solar/hybrid technology incorporated into all public buildings and works projects including roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.
- Fiscal penalties placed upon those ventures whose constructions are not energy efficient.
- Petrol powered cars, within the city limits, being subject to fossil fuel surcharge
- Free fuel cell top ups to solar powered (or other energy efficient/hybrid) vehicles within the city limits
- Free public transportation
- Carbon-neutral and carbon reducing endeavours receiving a range of tax breaks and free community engagement/promotion inducements, all of which equate to major fiscal benefits and positive promotion for any and all brands and businesses taking part.
- Wearable technology, connected to the city-grid, which enables Sydney’s children to be outside and, while playing, collecting solar energy as well as creating energy from their own activity. This energy, as you well know, is easily and effectively, downloaded upon their return home to power their PlayStations, etc. As well as saving money and Sydney power, children are also given a tangible incentive to be active and, thus, healthier. (It should be noted that, in addition, this wearable technology – embedded in children’s clothing and linked to a GPS system only available to parents unless otherwise agreed – makes it much easier for parents to know where their children are and to find them if they go missing. Thus the excuse of ‘safety’ was removed from any historical answers as to why children were not outside being active.)
- Sydney’s world-leading technological platforms, such as the Sydney Community-Suite Spots ‘One-Stop-Shop’, which ensured that remote/virtual workforces were, and continue to be, the norm, rather than the exception – meanw shat at least 70% of office workers can work effectively, efficiently and freely from home.
Along with its many government sponsored, free services such as city-wide, high speed wifi, Sydney’s world-first ‘One-Stop-Shop’ collaborative, online platform enables businesses, organizations and individuals to create and work together on city/Citizen Enduser focussed Joint Ventures securely, simply and inexpensively. All online, set up and incremental fees have been, since its inception, subsidised for as long as said project was deemed to have some semblance of profit – fiscal or otherwise – for the public good. Sydney-siders know these as a ‘Reinvention Projects’.
These ‘Reinvention Projects’ projects had their impetus in the realisation that (New) Gov 3.0 was not solely about politics which, at that time, was beginning the inevitable journey back from partisan to policy. Rather, (New) Gov 3.0 focussed on the enabling tools, technologies and techniques, which are now consistently used by Sydney’s engaged and empowered populace so that what was once perceived as being a disengaged ‘corporatocracy’ became known as a socially powered and powerful democracy.
This power and empowerment is best exemplified by an biannual participation Sydney-siders engage in. This is the call to participation, now turned to celebration, of Reinvention Projects wherein Citizen Endusers are encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ and make suggestions for positive change for the city – which are then voted on by all the cities Citizen Endusers.
Positive Collaborative Engagement With Carbon Neutrality
Projects which win the vote of the general public are given support, both fiscal, and otherwise – regardless of any partisanship; it is an election wherein the city’s municipal government has no veto. Since its inception, if Sydney’s Citizen Endusers deem a project positive for the city, the project is given support. Fiscally, ‘Reinvention Projects’ are paid for by the windfall hybrid-solar reinvestment revenue brought about once coal was no longer looked at as the main means to powering anything, including the economy.
Some of the local projects funded – and long applauded at local, national and international levels – were begun from an awareness of their global imperatives. Specifically, I note the work done following the realisation of the utter calamity bearing down on our global sector due to the rapid melt of the West Antarctica ice sheet.
Sydney-siders from all generations and walks of life have, for more than three decades, acknowledged the affects of climate change and rising sea levels. It was this awareness that led us to begin to adapt our foreshore and use leading edge technology to create 3D printed reefs barriers to protect our coastline. These reefs, part of our Community-Suite Spots, were designed to capture sea/wave energy which is still being used for powering Sydney’s infrastructure. In fact, no new public infrastructure can be built unless it can be included in the ‘pay-forward’ Community-Suite Spots scheme.
The beginning of this process found Sydney at the nexus wherein the Australian nation’s GDP, so long tied to the mining industry which was in free fall, began to move inexorably towards carbon-neutral clean technology. Sydney was at the heart of the Australian move to a mainly knowledge-based economy. As such the city was, and is, at the centre of the global Digital, Attention and Collaboration Economies (DACE) enabled by a engaging and empowering infrastructure of innovation and collaboration.
Yes, I am astonished by how much we have accomplished in thirty-five years. However, knowing the energy, enthusiasm and expertise which all came together to create the impetus for us to Commit to Collaborative Change I have no doubt that Sydney will continue to thrive in the sustainable, sublime future we share together!
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Plastic pollution is a blight in our cities and landscapes and is harming our rivers and oceans. Experts estimate that 300,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste from the United States (U.S.) pollute the ocean every year, which is about 65 dump trucks of plastic waste per...
Upstream intervention, a widely known public health concept, is the idea of taking preventive actions that would steer away from potential detrimental health effects such as chronic diseases, injuries, and premature death. To put it in simple terms, all things being equal, staying physically active, eating healthy foods, drinking clean water and breathing clean air, can prevent a whole host of chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart and lung diseases and cancer. Upstream intervention can be expressed as enacting policies to ensure access to a clean and complete environment of health.
Emerging technologies provide cities with a unique opportunity to both improve efficiency and better meet citizen and resident expectations. Managing competing demands for resources requires an understanding of the affected stakeholders and the relative economic and social impacts.