Diversifying South East Queensland

Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries with the bulk of the nation’s population clustering in half a dozen centres mainly strung along the east coast of the continent.

The northernmost of Australia’s population centres is South East Queensland, a sprawling collection of suburbs extending from the upper class enclave of Noosa Heads down to the Gold Coast and the New South Wales state border.

Cisco believe this sprawling region of three million people can become a ‘Smart Region’ with the use of technologies such as intelligent lighting and parking, citizen applications, and smart power metering could add up to 30,000 jobs and $10 billion of value to the community over coming years.

“The residents of South East Queensland told us they want to experience greater convenience and integration of public transport, greater digital engagement and intimacy in their cities, more reliable local government services, and new digital ways to further reduce the cost of red tape,” said Cisco Australia & New Zealand Vice President Ken Boal in releasing the South East Queensland: A Smart Region report.

Local civic leaders in the cities making up the South East Queensland conurbation see this as an opportunity to grow their economies.  “The future of cities and regions and their ability to create enduring employment opportunities are entirely linked to their digital capabilities,” says Sunshine Coast Mayor Cr Mark Jamieson while Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said Ipswich was already preparing for a strong future as a digital city.

“We have recognized that building and taking advantage of digital highways now will set Ipswich on a secure and successful path to capitalise on the ballooning digital economy,” said Cr Pisasale.

For South East Queensland, the challenge in creating new industries and jobs is becoming acute. The Australian miracle economy has left the region – like most of the nation – hopelessly uncompetitive and the bulk of employment is in domestically facing service industries underpinned by property prices.

In fact, the residential construction industry has been the mainstay of the SE Queensland economy and the region remains probably the most economically volatile of the Australian conurbations given its high dependence upon the building sector.

The digital economy does hold out hope for diversifying South East Queensland’s economy from building and domestic tourism, but the work is just beginning. Cisco’s smart region initiative is a first step, but there’s much more work to be done by business and civic leaders.

Brisbane image, “Brisbane CBDandSB” by Stuart Edwards. – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brisbane_CBDandSB.jpg#/media/File:Brisbane_CBDandSB.jpg