The Key to Innovation in a Smart City

Brisbane City Council insights into the role of collaboration and culture in building a Smart City.


Producing a smart city relies on creating more convenient technology. However, the importance of teamwork and collaboration in implementing these progressive strategies often goes unnoticed.

Brisbane City Council Chief Information Officer, Sarma Rajamaran, shared his insights on how to foster innovation for a smart city at OmniChannel Media’s CxO Brisbane.

“We can’t do this by ourselves. Fundamentally, we need to work with a global bunch of different entities to make things happen.”

His insights suggest that creating a smart city is not only one department’s responsibility but, in fact, it needs to be a state-wide goal where everyone works together.

Rajamaran explained the importance of team collaboration in working towards this end goal.

“We have to work with the education department, we need to actually bring in capability and build capability. We need to work with other governments and government agencies.

For example, when we talk about transport, we work with the Department of Transport and Main Road and other departments so transport is as seamless as possible.”

Rajamaran also pointed out that organisation culture is integral to developing a smart city because the citizen’s needs are the highest priority.

“It’s about the culture how we actually build the culture because once you build the culture, things are actually executed. Otherwise, things will be very complex to do because you’ll always find a reason not to do something,” he told the audience.

Changing the business culture is difficult for organisations that have legacy systems. It is crucial to change the mindset of the organisation in order to build a system designed to help citizens in the modern world.

The CIO also implored the listeners to change the way they view suppliers from a linear approach towards a collaborative one; they need to work together to create a better experience for citizens.

“Don’t think of your vendors as vendors. Don’t consider them as your suppliers. Think of them as collaborators and start to work together with them.”

He concluded his presentation by reminding everyone who they are working for, and what their aims should be. Customer experience is ultimately the end goal.

“It’s all about the citizen, it’s all about the service for the citizen, so outcomes should focus on better customer experiences.”