If you have viewed our other posts on Smart Cities and associated topics, we will assume that you have a good basic understanding of what a Smart City is, and how it's all being rolled out currently. Therefore, we will not waste your time by repeating ourselves too much here, with regard to the big picture.

Small and large groups of residents in Australia and other countries are voicing their concerns over the lack of consultation from their Councils, local MP's and State Premiers/Governors, in relation to the Smart Cities.

Why you haven't heard about this

Smart Cities. Crowded Ghettos

Quietly publicised consultation on the Smart City plans that were held over the last five years, have been presented with a lack of detail about those plans and how they will affect the public living in these regions.

Only positively presented opinions which reflect PR spin-doctor language, are shared in the promotional communication about the Smart Cities and Greater Cities regions.

The Greater Cities Commission Bill and plans have been silently passing through legislation (accepted unanimously by council chambers), with a lack of public notification and non-transparent communication methods on how to provide feedback.

  • Councils have a non-democratic process for those who wish to speak directly to councillors and council administrators regarding community concerns.
  • Residents are given only 3 minutes for pre-approved concerns to be addressed to Council. During the sitting of council, residents are chastised and silenced, whilst being arrogantly smirked at if they dare question the motions being passed.
https://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/featured/new-university-campus-for-gosford

New University Campus for Gosford (Source: www.newcastle.edu.au)

Councils, Ministers of Parliament and other levels of government have a constitutional responsibility to listen to the people. After all, their wages are paid by us and they are Public SERVANTS.

However, it is clear that open dialogue and the opportunity for the people to be heard, more resembles a dictatorial top down governance.

Greater Cities- Artists impression

Recently, after the horse had already bolted on the implementation of the plans, local residents in NSW became aware of an opportunity to give feedback via a suggestion-based loaded survey on the Six Cities/Smart Cities plan for NSW, via the sharing of this on social media by those individuals who were aware of what was occurring.

No doubt this was concurrently occurring in other Australian states. Feedback to Council was getting nowhere, so here was an opportunity to voice concerns and ask pertinent questions.

Questions that were raised

The questions posed to the Greater Cities/Six Cities Survey by concerned residents included:

  • What guarantees do we have by local, state and federal government to ensure that the people retain their constitutional, financial and civil rights?
  • How are we assured by Council and State government that we will not be denied free access to public lands, national parks, services and freedom of movement once these are all owned and managed by The Land Council and corporations?
  • Explain the strategies that you have in place for empowering every resident as a societal and community stakeholder, in a prosperity-centric economy, or is this statement just for organisations and business owners?
  • How will the transition to a Smart City affect us in our regions as these are developed?
  • What alternative energy sources are being developed?
  • Where on the coast will these new energy sources be placed (i.e., wind farms and hydro) once ‘clean energy’ resources are developed for utilisation here?
  • How will Council ensure that we have access to affordable and reliable sources of energy that are not cost prohibitive, not subject to a social credit score, and are not overburdened due to a weak power source?
  • Explain to us how the introduction of electric based vehicles and the 15 minute walk or bike ride vision, will work for those people travelling to areas outside of the ‘connected city region”?
  • Explain how will it work for people who cannot afford the electric EVs, how will the new foot and cycle transport system work for people with disabilities, medically incapacitated people, people with very young children, and the elderly?
  • What is the guarantee that people will still be able to travel freely, and in independently chosen modes of transport? Click on the link to see why we ask this question.

Below is an excerpt from an additional list of questions and concerns raised, provided to the Greater Cities Commission by the 'Community Voice - Central Coast' Facebook group:

"The Greater Cities Commission needs to have a transparent consultative process where feedback is acknowledged and additionally the community is made aware of what will happen with their feedback and how it will influence the plan. We have a legitimate right to know how our voice makes a difference and how we can have an active seat at the table."

Digital access -Smart Technology

  • What is meant by smart city technology?
  • How do you justify the level of energy required for data storage implicit in smart city technology?
  • How do you foresee Artificial Intelligence used in Smart Cities impacting on people’s jobs?
  • What are the privacy implications for smart technology?
  • What are the public protections regarding capture and use of data?

Housing supply, diversity and affordability

  • What do you mean by fast-track infrastructure?
  • How will you ensure this infrastructure is safe, open to public scrutiny and well built?
  • What safety mechanisms are there, and who is responsible?
  • How will property tax be reformed?
  • What is your definition of “affordable”?
  • Is the land you’re referring to in “A large-scale program of building social and affordable housing ...” on currently-owned government land? If not, how will government procure this land?
  • What were the causes of the rental surges as documented (9.1 % between May 2021 and May 2022)? What created the rental vacancies?
  • What information are you relying on to make the claim that “Climate fuelled disasters are increasingly driving internal displacement…”? What displacement are you talking about, and how is this relevant to the Six City Plan?
  • What do you envisage as approaches ‘to incentivise achievement of housing targets'?
  • The plan states that the Commission will work with local government. How can Central Coast residents ensure that our Council represents our concerns when we currently are under Administration and have no representation in Council? Isn’t it undemocratic that we do not have any Council representation whilst such a plan is undertaken?
  • What are the new financing mechanisms you reference?
  • What is your funding model for affordable housing? Who oversees this?

Inclusive places linked to infrastructure

  • What is the Commission and State Government’s definition of "Resilience"?
  • What makes a resilient community, in our opinion, is one where people can have an active voice and build authentic relationships- not something that is implemented by government?
  • What definition are you using for “equitable”?
  • What definition are you using for “inclusive”?
  • What grounds do you foresee that would make the Six Cities non-inclusive? If someone doesn’t want to have Digital ID, CBDCs, Carbon Credits, Social Credit Scores, Vaccine Passports, Smart Devices and extensive surveillance, will the city be inclusive for them?
  • How do you weigh up people’s fundamental right to live and be able to access goods and services vs control measures which will be implemented in smart cities?
  • How do you define “sense of safety”?
  • How do you define the term “wellbeing”?
  • The Central Coast City innovation district is likely to focus on health, technology and food manufacturing. Where can we locate the mapping of services, and forums and groups which are set up around these three industries?
  • How can the community have a seat at the table, to provide input into all of this?

Powering local jobs and economies

  • What are "high performing industries"?
  • How do you define a “resilient economy”?
  • What is the innovation district which the Central Coast will be involved in?
  • What are the key forums, groups, and Private-Public Partnerships which we should be aware of related to the Central Coast innovation hub?
  • When you state that “companies are able to scale up, innovate and broaden their market reach”, how will you ensure that small business is supported, and that large corporates don’t take over the market (as happened during COVID-19 lockdowns)?
  • When you state that “The Commission will work with our partners to develop a network of globally significant innovation districts…”, who are the partners you are referring to?
  • “The growth of the knowledge economy and diversification of industry sectors will support jobs for the future….” Can you please explain the "knowledge economy", and what you mean by "diversification of industry sectors"?
  • How will Artificial Intelligence that is utilised in smart cities impact on people's jobs? Which jobs will be impacted, and how do you plan to deal with this?

Climate resilient green cities

  • What is a “climate proofed house”? And what infrastructure/ materials does this include?
  • What technologies are included in this? What implications do these new technologies - smart technologies - have on people’s privacy and rights?
  • How do you plan to “transform how we build cities”; what does this entail?
  • Regarding your statement “Growth in renewable energy and electrification of transport, homes and industry and businesses”, there needs to be more transparent connection made by State Government regarding “transformative” plans, so the public is aware of the intersections and implications.
  • Circular economy – the plan references recycling and waste - is this all that will be involved in the circular economy- if not, what else is relevant?
  • “Recycled water, region plans and city plans will identify areas in city which are exposed and vulnerable to climate risks.” What is your definition of "climate risks", and if an area is assessed as a climate risk, what does this mean for people who own land or live in this area?
  • What safety mechanisms are in place for people’s private ownership of land in an area assessed as vulnerable to climate risks?

Embedded Indigenous voices

  • How will you reconcile Indigenous voices who question validity of land councils selling off specific parcels of land for development?
  • Who will be on the First Nations Advisory Panel?
  • How will you judge that this is the correct fit?
  • What plans do you have in place for reconciling any concerns from the First Nations community regarding who is placed on the Advisory Panel?
  • How does handing over or selling off land to the Land Council affect the rest of the community in regard to our access to that land?

Transparency regarding the Commission's consultation process

  • We note that you reference the World Economic Forum (WEF) in your appendices. How do you reconcile the conflict of interest inherent in the WEF structure and its relationship with government?
  • You reference the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (17SDG) in the Six City Plan. How do you reconcile the UN and WEF 2019 strategic partnership formed to implement the 17SDG?
  • The community need to know how the Six City Plan fits into the UN Agenda 21 landscape, which is connected to UN Agenda 2030/2050. People need to be made aware that we are now part of global agenda plans, which are not about particular towns, regions, and countries, and which put us on a global footing under United Nations directives.
  • How is the Six City Plan connected to Resilient Cities which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation?
  • As the State Government is elected to represent the people, what is the State Government’s obligation to portray a transparent picture of the smart city technology and landscape?
  • What say does the community actually have in government and Public-Private Partnership plans?
  • What structure is in place in case the community do not feel they are being adequately represented by their specific Commissioner?
  • How does the Greater Cities Commission affect local councils and their role?

Kate Mason - Community Voice Central Coast

Listen to Kate Mason unpack the Smart Cities

The response from the Greater Cities Commission to the community submissions of the above questions has been one of generic "thank you for your input" and not much else so far.

The Delphi Technique is used by the Greater Cities Commission as well as in Local Council meetings

3 comments on “The BIG questions that need answering about Smart Cities”
  1. Thank you Kate for this amazing work you have shared. I hope you don't mind but I will be using a lot of your work to educate my community as well inform our Shoalhaven Councillors and Mayor and the CEO/ Directors!
    I love your work you legend xx

    1. Hi Nina,
      Thank you so much for your encouraging post, I apologise that I didn't see it earlier. The Smart cities is a lot to pull apart and with many hidden parts. I'd suggest following 'Central Coast Community Voice" as well, as Kate M digs down into the local level and how it will affect the community level and even though she focuses on the Central Coast, the information applies to the Illawarra/Shoalhaven areas, as they will be the same due to the Six Cities Regional plan, it applies to all areas and any city as it is a cookie cutter global roll out.

      Thank you for picking up the torch and spreading the word!

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