Intelligent Communities forum sparks conversation in Bendigo

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People were at the heart of discussions about intelligent communities at a forum in Bendigo on Wednesday. 

Specifically, Greater Bendigo residents.

“All of the speakers touched on the need to really focus on the benefit for individual citizens and families, and clearly communicate those benefits to our whole community” Be.Bendigo chief executive officer Leah Sertori said.

As a speaker on one of two panel discussions during the half-day forum at the Bendigo Town Hall, Ms Sertori made the point that a city could have all the technology in the world.

But if its residents were unable to leverage it, the community would not realise the true benefits. 

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning secretary Adam Fennessy identified Bendigo as one of two Victorian leaders in the federal government’s focus on smart cities, along with Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

He called on those in Bendigo’s smart city alliance to keep asking themselves, “What does a smart city look like with a community at its centre?”

“What does smart cities mean not just to the people in this room, but what does it mean to disengaged youth, to Aboriginal communities, to socially disadvantaged people across Victoria,” he queried. 

Victorian Planning Authority regional lead director Tim Peggie emphasised the need for regional cities to be proactive rather than reactive. 

He said Plan Greater Bendigo was “at the cutting edge” of that process.

The document, to be presented to council on Wednesday night, would ‘stitch together’ several strategies and reinforce the priorities for the city’s development, Mr Peggie said.

Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke said she thought the City of Greater Bendigo was looking at things more collaboratively.

“And I think we have to, if we want the business community to work closely with us and our community as a whole to work more closely,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“I think we’ve got to be more open.”