Data-driven decisions

Open data hubs hold the key to smart city transformation

Jul 09, 2018

Across Australia, growing demand for smart city transformation is driving change in both state and local governments. Shared data is key to increased community engagement, and technology is enabling more effective implementation and customisation.

In Western Australia, the move to digital transformation and inter-agency collaboration is well underway, steered by initiatives outlined in the government’s Service Priority Review delivered in October 2017, plus the whole of government vision and roadmap for WA’s ICT future, Digital WA.

A core component of successful smart city enablement is the ability to share accurate, real-time open data.

Sari Ladin from the City of Los Angeles demonstrated at Ozri 2017 how the LA GeoHub’s shared data policy provides real-time access to more than 500 datasets across 20 city departments, enabling initiatives such as the Vision Zero initiative to reduce road deaths.

As with the LA example, here in Western Australia the Road Safety Commission had a similar aim when establishing their Towards Zero Strategy which is to reduce fatalities and serious injury on WA’s roads.

Main Roads WA were one of the first innovative agencies in the state to support the shared data policy with their own open data portal.


Previously, Main Roads WA had been sharing a small number of basic datasets, all of which needed to be manually updated and managed. In its new open data portal, Main Roads WA now publishes hundreds of datasets, all automatically updated to maintain real-time relevancy.

This open data platform gives greater transparency to both internal and external users; it was recognised as a finalist in the ‘Most Effective Government Solution’ category of the 2018 Incite Awards.

Providing data to the community helps increase citizen engagement by demonstrating evidence-based decision-making.


Organisations and governments that engage communities with open data ultimately gain greater levels of trust and cooperation – the community receives the truth through impartial facts, rather than assumptions or stories from media outlets. Let the data tell the story!

To enable true smart city status, governments need synchronicity between goals and outcomes to collaborate and transform. Instead of various departments using disparate GIS systems, the key is to simplify. A key success factor is the implementation of a common platform, connected through digital services, using a data hub to deliver public services.

The technology to make these changes already exists and its effectiveness is proven.

Software as a service (SaaS) offerings like ArcGIS Online allow agencies to share authoritative open data via public-facing websites and the ArcGIS Hub – an online platform that allows organisations to use open data from various sources to tell their story and inform stakeholders, collaborators and the community of why initiatives are important as well as seek feedback and consent.

Out-of-the-box templated platforms like the Local Government Access Program make it easier for councils to get started, customising the platform to match their organisation’s needs.

The outcomes of these technology solutions align with the government’s strategic goals: to simplify, connect, inform, collaborate and transform.

As government agencies and local councils move to an open data hub environment, the benefits of greater citizen engagement and collaboration will result in more equitable, harmonious communities.

For advice on building a smart city hub, call us on 1800 870 750 or send us an email.