These are draft minutes and are subject to confirmation by the Committee at its next meeting. The confirmed minutes will replace this draft version on the website.



Meeting Name

Smart City Advisory Committee



7 March 2024

Time 5:30 PM


Level 12 Boardroom, 126 Church Street Parramatta

+ MS Teams



Committee Members

•     Lord Mayor, Clr Pierre Esber (Chair)

•     Clr Sameer Pandey

•     Ian Oppermann (Deputy Chair)

•     Peter Runcie

•     Scott Thomson


Council Staff

•     Anthony Newland – Group Manager Infrastructure Planning & Design

•     Ashlee Gardner – A/Strategy Manager

•     Patrick Essey – Graduate Project Officer


Apologies / Leave of Absence

•     Dr. Sarah Barns




Melissa McIsaac – Governance


HPRM Reference








Acknowledgement of Country


The City of Parramatta Council acknowledges the Burramattagal Clan of The Dharug, the traditional owners of land of Parramatta and pays its respects to the elders past, present and emerging.




The Committee received an apology from Dr. Sarah Barns.


The Committee noted that Meredith Hodgman had resigned from the Committee after the previous meeting.


Disclosure of Interests


There were no disclosures of interest for this Advisory Committee meeting.


Confirmation of Minutes


The Minutes of the previous Smart City Advisory Committee meeting, held on 20 July 2023, were taken as read and accepted.


Council Changes


The Committee received a briefing from Anthony Newland, Group Manager Infrastructure Planning and Design, regarding internal structural changes at Council. The Committee noted that the innovation and smart city strategic projects team will now sit with Infrastructure Planning and Design.


Clr Sameer Pandey joined the meeting at 5:32pm during discussion of Item 5.


The Committee noted the updates provided.


Plantabox Urban Heat Mitigation Trial


The Committee received a presentation from Ashlee Gardner, A/Strategy Manager, regarding the Plantabox urban heat mitigation trial underway in Parramatta Square, to explore ways to reduce urban heat through moveable installations.


The Committee were advised that the trial is being funded by the NSW Government Office of the Chief Scientist & Engineer, with analytical project support from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The current trial will run until March 2024, after which the NSW Government will undertake a competitive review of the outcomes and determine which trials will receive continued proof of concept funding. The successful trials will commence proof of concept at the end of the Financial Year. The Committee considered the early trial results and noted options for next steps.


The Committee further discussed the benefits and constraints associated with mature tree canopy solutions for urban heat mitigation.


·      The Committee were requested to advise Council about any similar externally-funded research trial opportunities which may be of interest for Council to participate.

·      The Committee raised the following key points of feedback:

·         The Committee recommended to further consider the level of improvement to air temperatures, as this provides a more-significant cooling effect than surface-temperature improvements.

·         The Committee recommended that if Council is recipient of the next funding round, to ensure that the funding will deliver adequate value, for example investing in higher-impact tree canopy increases.

·         The Committee recommended for Council to investigate alternate funding opportunities for permanent urban heat mitigation measures, without a trial period limitation.

·      Peter Runcie offered to provide Council with further information regarding a sub-surface water collection initiative being undertaken at Sutherland Shire Council.


CoLAB Project Update


The Committee received an update from Ashlee Gardner regarding Council’s CoLAB pilot, which ran from 25 September 2023 to 4 February 2024.


The Committee were informed about the technology and entrepreneurial sessions provided through the program, and noted the attendance outcomes, which demonstrated there is a community demand for emerging technology sessions. The Committee considered the learnings from the pilot.


The Committee supported considering implementing technology programs to evolve library offerings for the community. The Committee further discussed considerations for Council to develop a permanent site for community learning and creative arts programming, including to ensure the site’s internet connectivity is sufficient to support program operations, and that Council would require suitably qualified staff to run the sessions. The Committee recommended for Council to consider opportunities for combining innovation initiatives to secure competitive funding support.


·          The Committee noted that Council staff are continuing to analyse the pilot outcomes and will provide a further update at a future meeting.


Priority Projects - Connectivity


The Committee received a presentation from Ashlee Gardner on Council’s priority Connectivity Project.


The Committee were briefed on the project context, considerations, and goals. The Committee noted that the project will comprise of two components, to first evaluate the level of digital connectivity across the local government area (LGA) using the NSW Digital Connectivity Index, and then to consider a standalone chapter for the Parramatta Development Control Plan to ensure the consistent provision of space for digital connectivity infrastructure.


The Committee received a demonstration of NSW Digital Connectivity Index mapping application, and noted inconsistencies within the LGA.


The Committee were requested to provide feedback on the project, including further analysis requirements, data interpretation, and recommended precedents.


The Lord Mayor, Clr Pierre Esber, retired from the meeting at 6:15pm during discussion of Item 8, and requested for Ian Oppermann to continue as Chairperson for the meeting.


·      The Committee raised the following key points of feedback on the project:

·         The Committee recommended to use the project to promote transparency regarding area digital connectivity, including to consider publicising the NSW Digital Connectivity Index through Council’s website.

·         The Committee recommended to ensure the analysis validates any data supplied by mobile and internet operators.

·         The Committee recommended to use learnings about inadequate digital connectivity outcomes in infrastructure projects to identify improvement opportunities for future or multi-stage projects.

·         The Committee recommended to consider collecting data on public sentiment regarding quality of digital connectivity from social media sources, as a preliminary indicator of inadequacies.

·         The Committee recommended to promote quality digital connectivity scores in Parramatta, and Parramatta as a place of innovation.

·         The Committee recommended for Council to focus on increasing free public Wi-Fi provision, but raised the importance of ensuring that public Wi-Fi delivery in Parramatta will be safe-to-use, particularly for vulnerable populations, which may require for Council to undertake further initiatives for raising community digital literacy.

·         The Committee recommended to consider opportunities to engage local universities and students in undertaking the project.

·      Clr Pandey requested for Council staff to prepare a report for the next Committee Meeting regarding digital connectivity issues within the Parramatta Square development and possible learnings.

·      Clr Pandey further requested for Council staff to prepare a report for a future meeting with a list of half a dozen small innovation or digital connectivity projects that Council could apply for funding or seek partnership opportunities to deliver.


Lightening Round


Committee Members were invited to raise emerging topics and trends for discussion, as follows:

·          Ian Oppermann raised the trending topic of assessing implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) at organisations, and enquired as to whether Council had started to consider its risk appetite position and approach.

·          Peter Runcie raised that Council has been nominated as a finalist for the Banksia Foundation Awards, and that Council should promote the achievement.

·          Peter Runcie invited Committee Members to attend the Sensing the West Forum on 13 March, which will look at smart sensing technologies in Western Sydney.

·          Peter Runcie invited Council to join a presentation he will be making on 14 March with the Australian Smart Communities Association regarding last year’s Smart City World Expo, and local governments and smart technologies.

·          Peter Runcie raised concerns regarding the identified lack of awareness in local government with the Standards for Smart Cities, and advocated for increasing local government participation in the organisation’s standards development committees. The Committee encouraged for a representative from Council to participate.

·          Scott Thomson further raised about the suite of Microsoft projects implemented by the NSW Government in late 2023, including looking at AI in planning processes. It was recommended for Council to remain aware of the project.

·          Scott Thomson advised about available TAFE courses on AI and cybersecurity which may provide beneficial Council staff training and upskilling. 


Clr Sameer Pandey retired from the meeting at 6:50pm during discussion of Item 9.


·          The Committee recommended to include an update on Council’s plans for AI implementation on a future Committee Agenda.


General Business


The Chair invited any additional matters of general business, as follows:

·          The Committee noted that the next meeting will be the last for the term.

·          The Committee noted that Council is undertaking an internal data audit with the ICT team, including considering integration opportunities and establishing a data governance framework. The Committee were invited to share with Council any recommended precedents for data governance frameworks.

·          The Committee were invited to share with Council any recommended resources on developing digital connectivity infrastructure provisions for Development Control Plans.


·          The Committee invited for Council staff to contact Committee Members prior to the next quarterly meeting to consult on any matters of interest.


Next Meeting Date: 17 July 2024


Meeting Closed: 7:00pm