Smart cities need smart people: Are you one of them?

Group of students with RMIT Vice Chancellor, Martin Bean

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Around the world, nations are proudly claiming that several of their metropolises are ‘smart cities’. But what exactly is a smart city?

According to RMIT alumnus Gordon Falconer, it’s one where technology and planning come together to allow us to “do more with less”.

As resources continue to dwindle, this will need to become the new mantra of everyone involved in the planning of smart cities – from engineers and architects to policymakers.

Inspired by Gordon and curious to know more, we asked him and two other RMIT alumni what skills they think will be required in the smart cities of tomorrow. Hailing from the fields of payments, healthcare and energy, they share how smart cities will transform lives and the world as we know it, and how you can set yourself up for career success in the future.

Smarter payments: (Don’t) show me the money

No one will need cash in a smart city, predicts Lara Truelove, speaking from the viewpoint of a senior payments professional who has worked across Asia Pacific. Digital banking has already made it extremely easy for people to pay bills or buy things they need without even stepping into a bank or pulling out their wallets.

As the payments industry advances, so will the need for people who can make it happen. In other words, if you want to work within the industry, you’ll need to be innovative and agile enough to develop the products that the consumers need – fast. 

Build your own smarts with adaptability

Lara adds that you also need a thirst for knowledge to achieve success in the smart city.

“You need to be very curious. You also need to read and experiment widely, as things are changing very fast.”

Lara says she was fortunate to learn a great deal about product development and customer experience design while studying for a Bachelor of Business in Marketing at RMIT.

“I learnt how to develop products to suit different markets. Subjects such as consumer behaviour and services marketing were especially helpful in this area,” she recounts. 

Smarter healthcare: Technology that saves lives

Dr Stella Wee, CEO of the Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital, says relevant and accurate data as well as timely access to appropriate technology can be a huge support to healthcare providers in a smart city.

“To patients and their loved ones, time is of the essence. They would expect to have ready access to the best of medicines and expert opinions within a short span of time. This is especially so for patients who find out that they have a critical illness. It is important that their medical records are available to several specialist doctors in different hospitals or medical centres at the same time. This is why a smart city that is fully integrated and operationally ready is so important,” she says.

Dr Stella feels that a city equipped with such smart infrastructure can make a world of difference in the healthcare industry. The secret to success in a healthcare career is like “sustaining a good and healthy blood-flow to vital organs,” she adds.

Build your own smarts by loving what you do

In addition to having such a macro view, Dr Stella believes you also need to love what you do to enjoy success in a smart city.

“I was fortunate to choose the correct programme in the right field of study, which ignited my interest. Opt for a course of study that you are passionate about, and it will boost your confidence and commitment to succeed,” she says.

Dr Stella credits her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in International Management   from RMIT for having trained her to see the big picture.

“The MBA programme provided me with a good “helicopter view” and appreciation of international management on the global stage,” she says.

Smarter infrastructure: Bridging the gap between vision and reality

Gordon Falconer, Global Director of Smart Cities at Schneider Electric, thinks the future of smart cities will revolve around having solid infrastructure in place. This will help to bridge the gap between the vision and reality of smart cities.

But along with the technical know-how, having a certain amount of business understanding is also crucial to building smart cities.

“You need to be able to combine your knowledge of engineering with an ability to understand business to a certain extent,” advises the RMIT alumnus.

Build your own smarts with business skills

Besides an understanding of the business, Gordon thinks it’s important to think practically and on the spot.

Gordon sharpened this skill while studying for an Associate Diploma in Valuations at RMIT  . “My dad went to RMIT, and he was an engineer. I come from a long line of engineers, but I’m the first in five generations to not be an engineer!” he adds with a laugh.

To be successful in smart cities, technical abilities will definitely be important. But as the experts point out, loving what you do, having foresight and business sense as well as being adaptable in a rapidly changing environment are also needful.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.