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Global ideas, local solutions

No doubt a lot of you would have used your (ever shrinking) summer downtime to read and absorb the ample material produced in the media and elsewhere about what to expect in 2017. Certainly, there are a lot of pundits making a lot of predictions. But for local government I think it’s best to start this year with reminders of what we know before embarking on how to tackle the future.

Image: What was true in 2016 remains so in 2017: effective as it is, the LGAQ’s advocacy can only ever partly address the $1.1 billion funding shortfall faced by Queensland local government. A drop in the bucket compared to the deficits faced by our federal and state governments. The facts are that, as global forces continue to pummel public revenues at all levels of government, local councils have no choice but to look at further reducing costs and improving performance through productivity, asset management and innovation. On the other side of the ledger, they need to continue to discover and grow alternative revenues if they are to deliver the essential public infrastructure and services their communities expect.

For our part, the LGAQ must look to support members to position themselves and embrace innovation and best practice to ensure local government remains viable, contemporary and relevant.

This was the rationale that drove the LGAQ’s recent study tour, led by LGAQ President Mayor Mark Jamieson, spanning two continents, three countries, eight cities and resulting in 20-plus meetings.

mage: 16 day tour was designed specifically to focus on this challenge, and focused on four major themes: better understanding of the potential of adopting smart technologies and creating smart communities, such as smart street lighting; investigating how hybrid technologies and micro-grids can help regions tap into the burgeoning field of renewable energy and better manage major cost inputs; learn how global leading technologies, such as blockchain, might apply to and improve the business of local government; and, finally, how data analytics can be used to better understand the needs of communities and support the business of local government.

We gained priceless insights into all four of these areas and established strong and hopefully enduring relationships with the leaders in these fields. One of these individuals deserves special mention: Queensland’s own Leanne Kemp, technology entrepreneur and founder of Everledger, a diamond identification and transaction ledger. Leanne is becoming a game changer in the multi-billion-dollar world of detecting insurance fraud. We met Leanne in London. Her tremendous knowledge of blockchain convinced us that the technology had quite exciting applications to local government, and we will meet Leanne again in Brisbane on 2 February, to progress this further. What we learned on the tour and scheduled follow up meetings sets the LGAQ on course to help save our members tens of millions of dollars in coming years. We will update our Smart Communities Smart Councils and LGAQ Smart Strategy to reflect the opportunities flowing out of the study tour and look forward to discussing opportunities through the Elected Member Update training scheduled for April.

Strategically, the tour has helped ensure the LGAQ, and by association Queensland local government, is at the forefront globally in this most important field of endeavour, the digital revolution, that is rapidly transforming the world.  From that, our members, if informed and positioned well, can only benefit.

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