First week at Smarter Cities Challenge project at Ballarat, Australia – was just Trash Talk or as they say in Australia – Rubbish!!

We have just completed our First week of our Smarter Cities Challenge project at Ballarat, Australia. The project is focused on Waste Management Challenges ( hence the colorful title!). We spend a lot of time in discussing the streams of waste ranging from green waste to Industrial waste. The task at hand was to collect contextual data around the City of Ballarat, which will enable our understanding of the problem domain, contextual challenges, regional strengths ( and limitations) and a Waste matrix of sorts that will enable us to provide a better decision framework to address a growing and costly problem of Waste/trash or rubbish – depending on your vernacular.

First week was dedicated to information gathering , and that is what we did. We also gathered that the community, in and around Ballarat is fortunate to have a council, City officers, concerned industry groups, University alliances and talented individuals who are not only armed with knowledge but also dedicated to addressing the growing problem of Waste. There is significant amount of thought leadership, skills and will to take on this challenge, which makes our collaborative efforts easier to achieve. What I have learned from my first week here is that any approach to address this problem ought to be systemic and with community involvement. Which implies public opinion, thoughts and a bit of education around the Waste Matrix – which I define as a collection and categorization of different kind of waste such as a Green waste, brown waste, food-organic waste, Industrial waste and agriculture waste. Mapping this Waste Matrix to a Cost to impact ratio would be a solution design imperative.

As I work my mind map, I am thinking the methodology to addressing waste management ought to be around:

  1. Focus on problem at hand – Waste volume and costs around waste disposal.
  2. Identifying the Overall Value chain – the input(waste coming in), waste processing and output (waste going out)
  3. Identifying technology at Play – at a very fundamental level identifying the technology option that is contextually relevant and sustainable for long term changes in waste dynamics.
  4. Community and Industry Partnership – this is fundamental to any community effort, is a on going dialog with the residents, businesses and administration.

I think for any City with growth ambition like wonderful city of Ballarat, there are foundational considerations around infrastructure, Energy and Waste Management. With this solid foundation, city can begin to build the pillars of economic growth to sustain the influx of jobs, which in turn will fuels other related economic activity. I think City of Ballarat is poised for that growth.

I am particularly impressed by “team effort” in Ballarat with friendly faces at coffee shops, grocery stores , City Officers, Industry groups and various Subject matter experts I have met this week.

Today we plan to visit a few places that have anchored history of Ballarat to “Gold Mining” era. I think it is important to understand the history, which will allow me to connect to present and envision a bright and promising future.

Here are some of my capture of beautiful Ballarat!

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