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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) . . Page.. 2107 ..


City services provides important employment opportunities for many Canberrans, but the future is coming and the oft-tooted trumpet of automation is getting louder and louder and closer and closer. I have read a lot about smart cities and future cities initiatives popping up around the world. It is only a matter of time before the ACT, as the country’s most advanced and progressive jurisdiction, starts looking seriously at the future of municipal services, particularly maintenance of said services.

A Google search told me Leeds University is developing a fleet of robotic repair workers to identify and patch minor infrastructure problems before they become disruptive, from flying drones which will fix streetlights, to machines that roll along and patch potholes and robots that live in our sewers and stormwater infrastructure to patch cracks and grind up blockages. I imagine a streetsweeper would be like one of those indoor robot vacuum cleaners. I must say, I do not have one of those; it is not one of my big ambitions. But people tell me they work and I can envisage something a little bit larger than that. Leeds researchers are, pretty creepily, calling their little robots white blood cells for a city.

In Sweden, Volvo is developing a public bin system that combines smart bin technology sorting rubbish at point of disposal with robots that track the fullness of these bins, collect the bins and then deliver the waste to the various automated recycling centres. These systems should not be seen as a way of cutting jobs or just dismissed as the future that will never happen. Clearly, TCCS and every jurisdiction find the burden of maintenance for city services overwhelming.

We spend a lot of time in the Assembly talking about city services and maintenance, and the recurring theme is that everybody would like more. If there are ways to alleviate some of the hardest parts of the jobs, our valued public servants could have opportunities to be redeployed to much more enjoyable or complex tasks or maybe get to work four days a week without losing pay. The future might be bright for the robot streetsweepers of the ACT.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.00): I thank Ms Lee for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. It is quite a simple and straightforward motion about ensuring that our city streets are looked after and, as a consequence, that our waterways are looked after. Street sweeping is an effective and simple way of ensuring that our community looks its best. Street sweeping is vital not only to ensuring that our waterways remain clean; it also helps our local Canberrans feel proud of their community. When you feel proud of where you live, you do more yourself to keep your community looking good.

I think it is a bit of a confusing message that we encourage people to report issues but then do not do something about them. This is the case when we ask them to report street sweeping issues via fix my street. They can see that online. There are a whole range of issues that they can report. However, they are not included in the information you can see about your suburb. That does not make much sense to me either. All that information is collected there but it is not available to the public to see.

To me, it is a little like the accountability indicators that have been removed in this year’s budget. When you are getting results that are not very favourable, you make sure that the public does not see those results. It is that same pattern. I receive quite a


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