Mayor Lisa Scaffidi shares her vision for Perth city, and discusses how digital and data is key to future-proofing the city and improving public service delivery.

What is your vision for the city?

The City is revitalising urban spaces into thriving new centres, with parks, public open spaces and facilities that celebrate the City’s natural features and energy. Our vision for Perth is a proud one that will see Perth recognised even more as a great city to live and work in.

In many ways, having a presence in Perth is seen as enabling a business. From a location perspective, it puts us in the same time zone as 60 per cent of the world’s population looking north to China, and even more when you consider the South East Asian and Indian Ocean rim. From a domestic perspective we are a key driver of our own national economy.

Perth is also focusing on industry sector diversification and the development of sectors which will over time, ensure we are less impacted by global changes in the demand for, or prices of commodities.

How will you develop your digital services?

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Our goal is to future-proof the City and change the way we do business with our community and stakeholders. It is about providing a better service and experience for customers, giving them more choice about how and when they want to engage the Council, be that face to face or by digital platforms.

It allows us to know more about our community and visitors and enables us to the deliver the right services to the right people, in a responsive, cost efficient manner. This ensures that we can reduce costs to our ratepayers and residents while maximising the value they receive from Council.

Using urban informatics we can respond to the City’s changing environment, demographic and patterns of movement in real time. Tapping into these rich data sources allows us to model the best outcomes for the City so we can plan for the future.

The City of Perth is involved in over 50 Smart City initiatives. It is WA’s leading provider of government open data and supports a number of tech hubs and startup incubators.

We are focused on environmental sustainability through our smart poles that detect water leaks, car parks that include free electric vehicle charging points and a number of programmes to support environmentally sustainable buildings.

The City has one the most extensive free WiFi networks in Australia and we continue to look for innovations in how this can deliver new insights and business opportunities.

What has been the greatest innovation from the civil service?

The City of Perth Act 2016 redefined the City’s purpose. The Act acknowledges the central role Perth plays in business, economic development and tourism across the vast State of Western Australia.

In partnership with the Government of Western Australia, the City of Perth is committed to attracting international capital investment and growing overseas opportunities, all while remaining committed to assisting local companies expand and grow.

We have engaged with the State in developing a robust policy framework, and the City has advocated strongly in leveraging better outcomes for people living, working and visiting Perth.

What has been the biggest challenge that the council overcame in 2016?

The economic downturn across the world was the City’s greatest challenge in the lead up to 2016, resulting in knock-on effects across the commercial sector.

Perth has been, and continues to be, the fastest-growing capital City in Australia. We’re the centre for the oil, gas and minerals industries across the country, although the resources industry has retracted.

However, Perth continues to experience development and investment on a global scale, and is the gateway to Asia, which opens up a vast array of investment and diversification. Diversification, innovation, technology and science remain the key to ensuring Perth continues to grow into the future.

How is the city using feedback from citizens?

The City of Perth actively consults across all industry sectors, professional groups as well as with our key citizens, stakeholders and major investors. We value everyone’s feedback – good and bad – and want to know all opinions.

Not only do we take on board feedback from our residents and stakeholders, the City also actively engages with our international relations partners to improve their experience, and build on our brand and reputation.

Perth has 11 Sister and Friendship City relationships globally, including Chengdu and Nanjing in China, Seocho in Korea, Taipei in Taiwan, Kagoshima in Japan, Houston and San Diego in the USA, Kastellorizo and Rhodes in Greece, Vasto in Italy and of course Perth in Scotland.

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What is your top priority for 2017?

The City of Perth is focused on planning accordingly for its future growth. We’re doing this through the City’s Strategic Vision. To reach our goals we need a world-class integrated transport system, housing diversity and continued strong economy. To achieve this, we need the Federal Government to invest in cities – to fund light rail projects and help address water security issues.

Over the past 10 years, a significant number of companies have established or relocated their national and international headquarters to Perth. 2017 will continue to see us engage the business community to attract more companies and build greater momentum.

What is the biggest area of spending for the council?

Capital projects are the City’s greatest investment.

With upgrades to the Perth Concert Hall, completion of the City of Perth Library and contributions to major State Government projects such as Elizabeth Quay and Perth Busport, our capital spend is important for the City’s development. It enhances and enriches the urban landscape, making it attractive to investors, business, residents, tourists and visitors.

What city or country do you draw public service inspiration from and why?

I personally draw inspiration from cities like Bilbao, Barcelona, Singapore and New York City.

Major cities such as these have world class infrastructure, efficient road and rail networks, strong local economies and an ‘X’ factor that draws people to them.

Bilbao in particular is a vigorous service city that is experiencing an ongoing social, economic, and aesthetic revitalisation – similar to us here in Perth.

We can take their lessons learnt and dramatically increase our population through urban infill and greater density living. The challenge for us is to ensure that support services, transport and urban design have been instigated to make it a viable option and what people want.

If I were to visit your city, what one place would you recommend?

With so many highlights, it is extremely difficult to identify just one place or activity.

From beautiful public open spaces such as Kings Park, the Supreme Court Gardens or Langley Park, set right on the majestic Swan River – to our wide variety of entertainment venues including small bars, restaurants, alfresco dining and activated lane-ways, it really is difficult to separate.

I do love the City’s public art, and of course I have great admiration for the City of Perth Library, which will celebrate its first anniversary on 1 March this year.