February 21, 2024

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Auckland, New Zealand Recognised for Smart City Innovations

Auckland Smart City Innovations

Auckland, New Zealand has secured national recognition at the 2019 Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) awards for creating innovations that help solve complex city-scale problems.

As reported, Mayor Phil Goff says Auckland Council and its economic development agency are leading the charge on how a city can be smarter about tackling urban challenges.

GridAKL Innovation Labs

  • It won the EDNZ Best Practice Award for Innovation. It is a joint initiative between GridAKL and Innovate Auckland, the respective innovation teams from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Auckland Council.
  • It is an extraordinary example of an economic development agency fulfilling its role as an instigator of long-term systemic change where there is market failure, in this case in the innovation ecosystem.
  • The labs are made up of two physical spaces, Hatchbox and the Pop-Up Incubator. The adaptable and flexible spaces are designed to encourage creativity and collaboration.
  • The initiative has created significant results.
  • Auckland Council’s Innovate Auckland teams bring their expertise, skills and technological know-how to run cross-agency workshops.
  • The Innovate Auckland partnership is delivering impressive public benefits, in addition to the private benefit of the companies who are engaged in GridAKL programmes.
  • Together they provide neutral ground and collaborative opportunities for government, businesses, academia and communities.
  • They use this to develop ideas that address some of Auckland’s complex urban, economic, and sustainability challenges.
  • Some of the projects that the labs have tackled include the following:
  1. Auckland’s real-time swimming conditions and water quality SafeSwim website
  2. How to use city-wide data better in decision-making and safeguard Aucklanders’ data and privacy in the Smarter Cities project
  3. Technological and sustainability improvements to farming and food production practices
  4. Climate action planning
  • Some of these solutions, such as Go with Tourism and SafeSwim, are now being adopted beyond Auckland and New Zealand borders.

Auckland Go with Tourism

Go with Tourism earned a commendation in the Best Practice Award for Innovation. It is a game-changing job matching platform that is now being rolled out nationally.

It was developed in partnership with Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) in response to a sector experiencing significant skills shortages.

There is an estimated 40,000 new tourism workers needed by 2025.

Go with Tourism was a key project to emerge from Auckland’s Destination AKL 2025 visitor economy strategy, which launched in 2018.

The initiative has since secured NZ$ 5.2 million from the Government’s new International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) to expand the platform into a wider national programme of activity in order to build the nationwide tourism workforce.

It has created significant outcomes for both jobseekers and tourism employers.

The New Zealand visitor sector should be thankful for the leadership ATEED has demonstrated to address New Zealand’s growing skills shortages and the opportunities created for young people wanting to find a sustainable career pathway, and therefore improve the quality of their lives.


OpenGov Asia recently reported on SafeSwim, which manages public health and safety by delivering real-time beach information and water quality forecasts to help beach-goers decide which locations to swim at based on current conditions.

The digital signs will clearly indicate the status of the beach for people without access to a phone or internet and help Aucklanders decide where to swim.


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