Speaker Series #11 Data for Climate Action: the Resilient Sydney Platform

Nov 2022

About the Session

The Speakers

About this session

Australia’s recent experience of intense bushfires, storms, flooding and heat is driving increasingly urgent city action to address the climate emergency. The Resilient Sydney Platform has enabled city-wide transparency of risks and opportunities, and growing accountability for tangible action on the ground. Launched in 2019, the Platform hosts data, visualizations and tools to enable city governments to understand the key environmental impacts in their communities. During the 11th session of Cities on the Frontline, we learned more about what Sydney is doing to create a new generation of environmental and social accountants to evidence and report on investments for resilience and climate action.

Monica Barone the CEO of the City of Sydney and member of the R-Cities Board of Directors, set the scene for the session by sharing some background information of Sydney’s Resilient Journey. Sydney, she mentioned, initiated a resilient program in 2015 with 100 Resilient Cities and developed its resilience strategy in 2018. Through this work, one of the big challenges that the city identified was lack of communication and collaboration due to the complexity of its governance arrangements, with only the broad Metropolitan Sydney having 33 local governments. If the local governments were not able to work together, Monica stressed, they would not reach their goals to build a resilient Sydney. Therefore, focusing on building collaborations and effective processes that work with political players became their objective. If they could all be using the same data in order to guide decision making that is one of the things that would really unify them.

With Monica’s introduction, Bruce Taper, the Founder and Director of Kinesis and David Holden, the Director of Kinesis, took the floor give a more in depth look at the platform and an demonstrate live how it works. Bruce started by sharing that Kinesis has always had the objective of making better cities through the use of data and analytics therefore this ambitious plan fit right up their alley. Bruce emphasized that the big challenge that Sydney faced through this process was never a lack of data but rather a lack of sharing and collaboration to capture its full benefits. The way Bruce defines it, the platform is as a single source of truth for climate mitigation and adaptation programs and policy that is robust enough and transparent enough to drive change with endless possibilities. David continued the presentation with a live demo to show that council offices and the resilience team are able to use the platform for data analytics and visualization, setting Net zero pathways and collaboration and sharing to engage not only with the other 33 councils but with the level of government above and private infrastructure providers as well. This has the potential to help focus efforts correctly, make projections, report on progress, etc. To wrap up David stated that in order to get the outcomes that they are driving for with all of this work the software needs to be connected to people and institutions that will take action it.

Beck Dawson the Chief Resilience Officer for Resilient Sydney, wrapped up the session by talking about how this tool is leveraged in real situations and what changes, they are starting to see in their cities. Climate emergency is very real in Australia, and the city is not equipped enough to match expectations of their communities, therefore a new generation of environmental accountant that drive investment and adaptation to reduce emissions needs to be formed. However even if there is still much to do in that regard, the Platform has already seen some important uses with 14 councils now actively pursuing major net zero plans, 16 councils developing local Resilience Plans. Furthermore, Beck continued, the data and engagement are really underpinning excellence and evidencing key challenges Sydney Faces, helping set targets, understand risks, report and engage politicians, build confidence and enable accountability. As a final thought, Beck stated that this is what resilience is all about, Sydney is trying to live and breathe it through this platform, however she acknowledged that they need capacity of everyone in their city to try and understand this information, and act on it to really make the changes they need.

Monica Barone
CEO of the City of Sydney and member of the R-Cities Board of Directors

“In order to work across Metropolitan Sydney with so many players, we need to be incredibly collaborative, we need to have all sorts of processes […] that takes an enormous amount of effort. But one thing we knew would really assist us is, was if we could all be sharing the same data, and all be interpreting that data to guide decision making, that was one of the things that was going to really unify us.”

Beck Dawson
Chief Resilience Officer for Resilient Sydne

“For me this is what resilience is all about, there’s the definition that we use but we are trying to live and breather it with this platform and really drive data into it. But we need the capacity of everyone in our city to try and understand this information, act on it to really make the changes we need.”

Monica Barone and Beck Dawson‘s Presentation

Bruce Taper
Founder and Director of Kinesis

“A lesson that follows from understanding cities as a mosaic is that you need a different solution and different emphasis for different parts of the city”

David Holden
Director of Kinesis

“The data didn’t come to us in this perfect format, it came in different geographies, different sectors, different subsectors, but our software and methodology enables it to be transformed in a consistent framework so cities can use it to do work.”

Bruce Taper and  David Holden‘s Presentation

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