Curious about smart cities and want to have a say in how technology impacts everyday lives? Now you have an opportunity to learn about how sensors, artificial intelligence, chat bots, facial recognition technology and other emerging technologies can benefit businesses and the wider community, plus provide feedback and submit ideas for further innovation through the soon to open Smart Space in Garden Place.
Officially launched on Friday night, Hamilton City Council CEO Richard Briggs addressed the crowd gathered in Garden Place before opening the doors to technology partners, elected members, and representatives of wider stakeholder groups.
“I am really excited about today. We’ve put a lot of effort in to developing our concept of smart societies and it’s a lot different to what other councils are doing. We are investing in a way we can engage with the community and start a conversation”.
The Smart Space is a culmination of work involving the Smart Hamilton team as well as other Council staff, technology partners, and stakeholders from outside Council, as part of the wider Smart Hamilton programme which starts with the community’s needs rather than technology and focuses on delivering community outcomes through a number of aligned objectives.
“Challenge us”, says Richard, “We have a certain amount of ambivalence in terms of how much we can change and we want to create a vacuum of expectations so we can continue to improve things.”
The space is interactive and is designed to tell stories of how technology is making a difference in addressing real problems facing our community and enabling innovation. Visitors can engage with technology on site and are encouraged to provide feedback and thoughts on how emerging technologies may be applied to create a smarter society.
Richard reiterated that it is not about technology for technologies sake but about thinking differently, creating an environment of innovation and as part of that building collaborative networks and providing opportunities to engage the wider community.
Feedback from those at the launch, sponsored by CultivateIT, Hamilton Central Business Association and Enlighten Designs, was positive with many keen to work with the community on further case studies and conversations underway to run events and develop plans encouraging the wider public to visit the space.
“Waikato is a region that is continuously reinventing itself through leading edge technology and it is fantastic to know that having a dedicated space in the CBD to showcase these technological innovations, will provide the public a truly smart experience.” Vanessa Williams, General Manager - Hamilton Central Business Association
A number of innovative case studies are presented through the Smart Space by leading local technology businesses and there are also examples of what the Council has been working on.
Talk with “Smarty” Hamilton’s Smart Space engagement chatbot, see if the facial recognition booth can guess your age, and find out more about the use of electronic signage around schools, environment monitoring for healthier classrooms, remote resource monitoring in primary industries, water level and bin level monitoring, and how technology is used to enhance the visitor experience at the Toia Mai waka sculpture that stands on the banks of the Waikato river.
“Focusing on innovation and engagement, the Smart Space is an opportunity to openly join Council, providers and most importantly the community to improve the community’s wellbeing.” says Mayor Andrew King, “This is not about the technology but about the people and how we can improve their ability to have a greater say on their everyday lives.”
The Smart Space, located off the entrance to the Garden Place Library officially opens to the public on Wednesday and will be open from 10am to 4.30pm Wednesday to Friday. For more information visit https://www.smarthamilton.nz/