To raise the Nordic profile as smart and sustainable cities, Nordic countries arranged an expert program in Australia, taking place in Sydney and Canberra from 29 October to 2 November. Forum Virium’s Director of IoT, Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts, represented Finland in Australia as part of the Nordic Smart city delegation.
During her visit she had the opportunity to share best practices in Sustainable/Smart Cities in three Australia States in conjunction with Smart Cities Week in Australia, and World Planning Day and World Urbanism Day. The catalyst for arranging the expert program funded by the Nordic Council was strong growth pressures on Australian cities (with expected growth rates expected to outpace that of other industrialised nations) and an increased interest by the Australian government in finding innovative ways to address those pressures.
The visit kicked off in Sydney, where speakers presented at a number of forums as part of Smart City Week Conference 29-31 October. The conference attracted over 400 attendees and covered boardroom discussions on the smart state, social equity and the digital built environment. In Canberra, speakers presented at a forum to politicians and Australian stakeholders at Australian Parliament House. At this event, Nordic embassies partnered with key Australian groups including the Planning Institute of Australia; the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, the Australian Local Government Association and the University of Canberra. In addition, speakers presented at a number of satellite events/meetings with various state governments, city councils and universities.
Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts presented Helsinki’s advancements on data-enabled smart city, new means for data collection and the international collaboration Helsinki does through projects like SynchroniCity, Select for Cities and MySMARTLife. Here some observations Niemi-Hugaerts made during her visit.
1. Cities collaborating is a big deal
Australian colleagues found the city-level collaboration Helsinki has managed to built very inspiring. They had already encountered our national collaboration enabled by the Six city strategy and project’s founded through it, but European projects like SynchroniCity, that supports scaling through harmonization and pilots, raised a lot of interest as well. Open and Agile Smart Cities network was seen as a great possibility for strengthening collaboration between cities across the globe. Australians were just launching the Collaborative research center on the topic of Future cities and the lessons learnt from Forum Virium’s quadruple helix model was naturally something that many wanted to hear more about.
2. LoRaWAN going strong, 5G player raising security concerns
Multiple Australian cities had LoRaWAN network set up and were active in very similar pilots on e.g. air quality sensing. Launceston had been the first to offer city-wide coverage and others have followed. Most recently the Gold coast announced to build the biggest network in Australia. Additionally, last year the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) and farm analytics provider Discovery Ag formed a joint venture called Connected Country to roll out a Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) network dedicated to the agricultural sector. From connectivity solutions 5G was on the agenda as well. One of the discussion items was the recent decision where the Australian government handed Huawei and ZTE a 5G network ban.
3. How to sell the idea of health record to your citizens?
Personal data was a big topic, even on the streets through a current opt-in campaign. In 2019 every Australian will get a digital health record, unless they opt out. For some part this is nothing new, as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) has been around since 2012 with six million citizens enrolled in it. They are now enabling regulating access and ensuring the content hasn’t been altered. It also keeps a full record of every key that accessed a record as well as what information and for which purpose. Reaction has not been merely positive and some conference attendees told that their doctors are promoting opting out, apparently mainly due to the fact that the record makes it easier for people to switch doctors. Check out this blogpost providing some insight to the situation.
4. Time for a Finnish MyData ambassador?
The visit was also a great chance to learn from the fellow Nordics. The delegation included experts from cyber security to architecture: Peter Bjørn Larsen, Peder Baltzer Nielsen, Michael Nilsson, Raul Rikk and Anders Røberg-Larsen. In addition to enjoying Raul Rikk’s crucial points on security issues and setting ambition level for digitalization high enough, I learned that Estonia has appointed this year an Ambassador at Large for Cyber Security, Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar. After which Peter Bjørn Larsen pointed out that Denmark was on it already a year ago by appointing a digital ambassador to liaise with some of the world’s top tech companies. Wouldn’t it be time for Finland to appoint a MyData ambassador?
5. Engage with embassies!
And the last lesson: we should better utilize our embassies! They are well connected hubs with smart people who are eager to share the advancements we make in Finland. Smart City as a topic connects to people’s everyday lives well, which makes it an easy topic to share and promote. So do remember share your promo materials with them so that they can better help you in your work and connect you with the right people locally.
Read more about the current international IoT projects on which Forum Virium Helsinki is involved in.