Event review: Innovation & Data – Smarter City, Smarter Business

December 4, 2019 by Athena Thompson

As TechLever is interested in what happens in our own backyard, I attended the City of Maribyrnong’s November event, Innovation & Data: Smarter City, Smarter Business. Below are some takeaways from the event which all have a common theme – data is important but it’s people who really count in the end (spoiler alert, not so much).

Brook Dixon from Delos Delta hosted the evening’s talks from Victoria University, VU Hanger, Tranquil Consultancy and quick five minute ‘rev ups’ from locals WellAware, Chasing Sound and The Idea Collective.

Delos Delta

Brook introduced the Smart City for Social Cohesion Project which is a collaborative initiative between Delos Delta, the City of Maribyrnong and Victoria University and is partly-funded by the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Platform.

The project, running from now until mid 2020, will leverage smart technology and open data to deliver the community value, city activation, safety, economic activity, mobility, and efficiency. This project will integrate smart technologies such as environmental monitoring, digital signs, realtime info (traffic, weather, public transport, safety alerts), free Wi-Fi, touch screens, smart lighting and leisure-based digital interactivity (ie smart BBQs).

Victoria University and Track

Associate Professor Sam Robertson from Victoria University and Track helps organisations understand performance of athletes and how to train effectively high-performance whilst minimising injury risk. A/Prof Robertson spoke about challenges, common across industries, when dealing with data and human performance such as:

  • Collecting data for data’s sake
  • Data quality – garbage in / garbage out
  • Need an underlying philosophy, backed by evidence, to effectively build sustainability and a universal understanding

Tranquil Consultancy

Fotini Pratis from Tranquil Consultancy spoke about the challenges faced by SMEs who focus only on dollars when making decisions rather than looking at other data indicative of business health. It’s important to find a balance between dollar-based decision making and having too much data which can lead to paralysis by analysis. Start with understanding how, why and where responsibilities lay when managing information. It’s ok to outsource and pay a small price now rather than burden management with more time-cost (ie get a stock turnover analysis spreadsheet and automate processes with available software).

Her highlights on what good businesses do:

  • Effectively manage cashflow
  • Hire slow, fire fast. You know in the first 2 hours whether someone has the ability for the job
  • Upskills at different phases in the business lifecycle
  • Clear goals and objectives
  • Build and maintain systems and processes

And one thing that you rarely hear from a person in business – It’s ok to rest! Take a break, don’t get burnt out. Get yourself energised and come back to it, then go hard.

VU Hanger

Thomas Anbeek is the Entrepreneur in Residence at VU Hanger and founder of Roshambo Studios. He talked about the Tech Stars SportsTech Accelerator (applications close 8 Dec) and the launch of Duct Tape, a new publication exploring the mindset of founders which is backed by Startup Victoria and Victoria University. There is also a community space, VU at MetroWest which is currently exploring concepts for development.

Thomas discussed the ideal approach for developing a startup ecosystem, its lifecycle and the various ways to accelerate the connections between people:

  • Bottom up before top down. Start small and local then work your way out
  • As growth plateaus connect to other ecosystems
  • “Give before you get” is key to building a strong community
  • Consistency. Always look at how to provide value
  • (And my favorite) Think big. Act small

5 minute ‘Rev Ups’

Tommy McCubbin, cofounder of WellAware, started with his personal story of why they started, with the early passing of his dad. He spoke about the care that people go to service their car often exceeds the same care they put on their personal health. WellAware is an app to help prevent chronic disease that gives individualised alerts, information and connects you better with your GP.

Emmett Brazil is a music educator growing a music hub, Chasing Sound, in Footscray. He sees that the inner west is in the middle of a purple patch; with a good mix of diverse people ripe for collaboration. The hub, located in Barkley St, connects schools to music and develops resources, content and programs.

Liana Lucca-Pope is a strong advocate for community and business in the inner west. She is a designer by trade, runs two hospitality businesses and coworking spaces known as The Idea Collective. The coworking spaces aim to connect and foster community whilst providing a diverse creative space. She recognises that Footscray is undergoing high-population growth and people want to be local and feel less isolated in business, hence the formation of two coworking locations in Footscray.

Last goodbytes

It was an enjoyable night hosted by my local council. I will be following with keen interest on how a range of businesses are involved in making my city smarter, and how it might shape into a Living Lab. If you’re interested in me covering tech that is changing the way we live I’d love to write about it – my contact details are here.